Text: Colossians 3:12-15 July 29, 2012.
1) The loads Dolores was carrying: As Dolores was driving along a narrow country road, she noticed that a car was following her rather closely. She could almost feel the irritation of the driver in the other car as she drove slowly and cautiously navigating several turns. Of course the other driver had no idea of knowing that Dolores was transporting 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, two crock-pots full of gravy and many other food items for a children home supper, enough to feed 200 hungry children. As Dolores sensed the frustration of the other driver, she thought, if he just realized the fragile loads I am carrying, he would under-understand why I am driving like I am.
2) The loads others are carrying: Immediately after Dolores had that thought, another thought came to her mind: How often am I impatient with people when I have no idea of the fragile loads they might be carrying. How easily we pass judgment on others, assuming that we know all the facts about a situation? God¡¯s word sends us in a more charitable direction, instructing us to treat each other with kindness, humility and patience. (Col. 3:12) How much more loving we could be if we understand, bear with the loads of others and forgive each other. (3:13)
LIFE IS FULL OF LOADS: (Genesis 3:14-19)
1) We asked for it and we got it: ¡°To Adam God said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ¡®You must not eat of it.¡¯ Curse is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.¡± (Genesis 3:17) All the loads or burdens we human beings had carried and still are carrying are the fruits of evil from our sin or rebellion against God. This is not only true to the sin of Adam, it is true of the burdens and pain suffered by many people today because of their rebellious acts and attitude. When we sin, we face the penalty. No exception, no bad luck and no injustice.
2) We have our different loads: ¡°To the woman God said: I will greatly increase your pain and childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.¡± (Gen. 3:16) Bible scholars ascribed that the pain of childbearing includes the pain of raising children, not just the process of giving birth. With the problems of youth delinquency runs rampant today, no one is surprised of the pain mothers and fathers suffer from having wild children. There is some truth in a Chinese idiom that says: ¡°We all have our different burdens to carry and no two of them are the same.¡±
3) We don¡¯t know the other¡¯s loads: ¡°So the Lord God said to the serpent, ¡®Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the day of your life.¡± (Gen. 3:14) If you wonder why snake is the most hated and feared animal among all God had created, now you know. Don¡¯t compare your load, pain or problems with that of another person. Don¡¯t even think that the loads others have are lighter and easier to carry than that of yours. We are not in their shoes and we don¡¯t know all the facts. It is mostly inaccurate and not fair if we try.
4) We create loads on others: ¡°The ground will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweet of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.¡± (Gen. 3:18-19) This is the curse on the ground and all live in it. Adam didn¡¯t just make life so hard for himself; he made it hard for all generations to come. We not just inherit loads from people before us, we may create loads for others near and far. Our decisions and actions may create pain and suffering, on purpose or not, for others around us.
WAYS TO HANDLE OUR OWN LOADS:
1) Getting to know the real world: ¡°I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.¡± (John 16:33) This is the concluding verse of a long parting discourse Jesus gave to his disciples began from Chapter 13. Realizing the trouble in the hearts of his disciples, Jesus tried to bring them some comfort by saying, ¡°Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, also believe in me.¡± (14:1) Even though we are children of God, we are not exempted from all kinds of trouble this world has to offer everyone. If the disciples of Jesus had to face troubles of this world, we should not be surprised when troubles find their way to our face.
2) Know where you are heading: ¡°Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the mockers.¡± (Psalm 1:1) Although we are infested with a depraved nature, it is the path we choose; the peers we associate with and the life style we adopt that put us in the direction of peace or trouble, joy or agony. King David gave warnings to his children and all readers by extension, not to get close to evil people and dangerous condition. Many troubles we may face are the fruits of our choices, either good or bad.
3) Know where you may unload: ¡°Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will support you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.¡± (Psalm 55:22) When we are exhausted of carrying our heavy loads, remember the invitation: come to the Lord for his support. Let God either adds strength in you so you can keep going with the loads, or let him take over the loads so you won¡¯t have to be burdened. ¡°Not to be shaken¡± means will never fall, beaten or crushed. Jesus calls us to ¡°Come to me all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.¡± (Matt 11:18)
4) Rejoice for the experience: ¡°But He said to me: ¡®My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.¡¯ Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ¡¯s power may dwell in me.¡± (2 Cor. 12:9) No tree may grow stronger and roots deeper unless it is beaten by strong winds. No fruit may grow beautiful colors unless it is exposed to the heat and rays of direct sun light. If God sees fit to allow us to carry loads, he has a perfect purpose to train us to be fit for his use and glory.
WHEN OTHERS ARE UNDER LOADS: Under the loads means under burdens, having weaknesses and problems, failure or not measured up to requirements. We see people like this everywhere, even in the church. (Col. 3:12-15)
1) We need a new approach: ¡°And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved.¡± (3:12) By remembering our new identity, as chosen people of God, holy and beloved of God, we ought to have different attitude toward those who are under the pressure of heavy burdens, those who don¡¯t measure up to what God requires of all his children. We need to remember that all that we have and who we are, we are the beneficiaries of God¡¯s love and grace. There is no room for pride or arrogance. Paul said: ¡°For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you did not receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn¡¯t received it?¡± (1 Corinth. 4:7)
2) We need compassion and kindness: ¡°Then put on a heart of compassion and kindness.¡± (3:12b) In 3:5-9, Paul wants us to put off all the old nature and its filthy expressions. Here he asks us to put on the new nature and its new expression. To have compassion, oiktirmos, is to have sympathy and mercy toward those who are carrying heavy loads, the weak, those who are unable to measure up to your standard. The Greek for kindness, krestoteta, refers to have grace instead of harsh in words or actions just as God is kind and compassionate to us, sinners. If God grants you more and better in someway, it is not for you look down or despise the weak and the lowly.
3) We need humility and gentleness: In ancient Greek literature, tapeinophrosune, humility, always have a negative connota-tion. It is until Christian doctrine that elevates humility as an important virtue. It is an antidote for pride and self-assertion that poisons relationships. Jesus urged his followers to follow his example of being humble and meek. (Mark 11:29) On the expression of humility in gentleness, prautes, we are to be courteous, nice, full of sympathy to those who are carrying heavy loads in their soul and life.
4) We need patience and forbearing: Patience, makrothumia, is needed to treat those whom we think are slow, dumb, unwise, low achieving or not teachable. For the need of mutual love and unity, we are to take care of the weak, the slow and the outcast among us in the church and in the society to help them stand up and keep going. If God were impatient with us, we won¡¯t have any chance to become his children. Patient to others in their heavy loads is the outward expression of inner spirit of forbearing. When we have a heart to bear the burden of the weak and slow, we will express it in patience.
1) Understand life with loads: It takes time to live, to go through and to understand life with loads on ourselves and on others. Life is never as rosy as we think or want. Problems, pressure, burdens and setbacks are essential parts of real life. We may know our loads and feel burdensome. But few of us are really able to know the loads of others who are traveling the path of life with us. We need to do more than just bear with them, we need to stand by them to help them carry the load for some distance. We are fellow pilgrims to heaven and we need to make sure all will arrive safely. Paul says: ¡°Carry each other¡¯s burden and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.¡± (Gal. 6:2)
2) Don¡¯t carry loads by yourself: If you are carrying heavy loads beyond your ability, there is a place you can come to release the loads. Jesus invites you to come to him, ¡°Come to me, all who are weary and burdened. And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me: for I am gentle and humble, you will find rest for your soul.¡± (Matthew 11:28)