By Theodore Epp
To speak of bearing one another's burdens and then to say that every man shall bear his own burden appears on the surface to be a contradiction. This really is not the case. Two different words are used in the original language that are translated "burden" in Galatians 6:1-10.
The burden spoken of in verse 2 is a burden caused by circumstances. The first verse in this chapter admonishes the spiritual person to restore a brother caught in a fault. Instead of discouraging the guilty and burdened brother, the Christian counselor is to help sustain his spiritual life. We are to help bear the burdens of such a person. We are to put ourselves in his place and make his burdens part of our burden.
The burden in verse 5 deals with our responsibilities as Christians. The subject of personal work is raised here and is part of our task as members of the Body of Christ.
In such passages as 1 Corinthians 12:18 and Romans 12:38, we are told we are members of the Body of Christ, and the function of members in a body is to work. The life of the Body is His life. So each one of us who is a member of the Body of Christ has a responsibility and must bear it, thus proving his own work. To the sinner the Lord Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). But to us he says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.... For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (vv. 29,30). He wants us to bear our burden of responsibility to God and man.
"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves" (Rom. 15:1).