This post is taken from my recent teaching on boundaries. It was so well received by the group that I wanted to share it with you.
Often when I talk about putting boundaries in place, clients ask, “How can I say no when we are supposed to bear one another’s burdens?” Or “How can I put my needs before another’s when we are told to be selfless and serve others?” They often bring up the apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians 6:2 which says, .
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
That is when I share what Paul writes just three verses later. In Galatians 6;5:
“For each one will bear his own load.”
Both of these verses are in the NASB 1995 translation. The King Jame’s Version—which many of us grew up with—uses the word burden in both verses. This often brings confusion. However, if you research the Greek meaning of the word “burden” we see that there are two different Greek words used.
The Greek meaning of “burden” in verse two could be defined as carrying a load or a weight, like that which would be carried in the hold of a ship. This is something that is extra heavy that only comes up occasionally.
The Greek meaning of the word “burden” or “Load” in verse five is defined as a task or service. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 11:30 when Jesus says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
How do you apply the difference of these two verses in your own life? What does it mean for your daily life? In short, we are to help others when the weight of the burden they are trying to carry is too great for them to handle alone. Conversely we are to take responsibility and handle the tasks or services that we are called to “carry” on our own. We say yes to the heavy burden and no to the tasks or load.
The best analogy I can offer is that we are to help our brother and sisters when they are trying to lift and carry a boulder, but it is okay to say no when they are asking us to carry the pebbles of daily living. In terms of our own burdens and loads, we should be mindful to only ask for help with the boulders in our lives, not the pebbles the Lord has assigned to us to carry.
In conclusion, the answer to the question of when to say yes and to you say no is found in the answer to this question:
Is this a burden that you are meant to help with or is it a load that your brother or sister in Christ is meant to carry on their own?
The shorter question is to ask is this a boulder that requires my help or is this a handful of pebbles they are meant to carry themselves.
There is peace and freedom in taking the time to consider this question and then putting boundaries in place. The word “no” is the easiest way to put a boundary in place. By saying yes to the boulders and no to the pebbles, you will find the freedom and time to work on your God-given purpose while being God’s hands and feet to those in need.