2000-03-02 - Nobody Knows
Gal 6:1-5 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. (NAS)
"I've never told anyone else this, but …" These are words that few of us who are old enough have not said or heard. If you are one of those who have not, your turn is probably coming. They can be words spoken out of a heart of pain looking for comfort and help. They can also be words spoken in return to let the hearer know their pain or shame are understood. It takes a little courage on both parts to drop our defenses to that degree and expose our imperfections and failures to another. The courage can be born out of despair or desperation on the one hand, or a deep desire to assure someone else that there is forgiveness and life even after a hard fall.
The word burden in verse two refers to an excess burden, over and above the normal burden someone should carry. A worker would be paid a certain amount for an allotment of work. A camel can be expected to carry only so much and not slow everyone else down. My wife weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet. I weigh about 210 pounds. For me to carry her is not a big problem. But for anyone to expect her to carry me is not being realistic. She will need help. In the same way, Jesus does not expect us to carry these excess personal burdens alone. He is there ready to forgive, but sometimes we need to hear it from flesh and blood too.
Rom 7:18-20 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (NAS)
Paul tells young Timothy to flee youthful lusts. Why? Because Paul remembers what it was like to be a young man of Timothy's age. It can be that time of youthful ability and zeal that creates a heady sense of being indestructible. There are fewer times when someone is more vulnerable as when they are sure they can not be defeated. For Timothy to place himself in a situation where he might be tempted because he felt it was his responsibility as the strong, young pastor would be foolish. If Paul was worried about his 'son in the faith', then we should heed the warning too. If we think we are winning the war with sin, perhaps we need to look at Jesus' definition of sin. If any man looks at a woman with desire in his heart, he is guilty of adultery with her. If any man is furiously angry with another man, he has already committed murder in his heart. This is not to say that a man may not even see a woman, or be upset with another person, but it raises considerably the bar of what is acceptable.
In 1 John 1:8, we are reminded that if we think we have no sin in ourselves, we are living a lie of self-deception. Even after our salvation, we will struggle with our flesh even though it is reckoned as dead by Christ. Thank God for His grace, mercy and forgiveness. Without it, there would be no way for us to be forgiven in the first place. And there would be no hope for us of living forever in His kingdom with Him.
If you live with a secret struggle, or a failure that breaks your heart and you think no one will understand, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Take a trusted friend or elder aside privately and ask if you can talk with him. Ladies, find an older sister in the Lord and ask if she has some time to share. You will probably hear them tell you that they know exactly how you feel and that they have been either very close to or right where you are now. If you are expecting judgment, I am willing to bet that you will find understanding and acceptance. You will also hear words of encouragement that God has already forgiven you and still loves you very much. And most important of all, you will not be alone anymore. You will have a willing friend to help you carry the excess burden to the cross and leave it there.
If you have come to the other side of that dark valley after stumbling into sin and have found the forgiveness that others are so desperately seeking, God can use your fall - no matter how how hard or into what you fell. Someone fell just like you did, or will soon. That someone may just happen your way by divine appointment one day. When he or she does, be ready to give them an ear, an arm of compassion and the hope that you have inside you. When you know that Jesus has forgiven you, that you are not alone and that He is not finished with you yet, you can pour life back into that person who has been sent your way. You can do that if you are willing to humble yourself and be a servant and are willing to help carry that excess burden. The joy of seeing someone climb out of the lie that the enemy sold them, that they are worthless, that Jesus will never use them again, is priceless.
Rom 8:1-6 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (NAS)
Lord Jesus - give us the hearts of servant workers, to go out into the highways and byways and bring in the sick, the broken and the wounded and cover them with your compassion. Let them hear of Your mercy, grace and forgiveness. You have promised never to condemn Your children - help us spread the word. Amen.
Grace & Peace,