When Is a Helping Hand Not a Help

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6: 2) KJV

“For each one shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6: 5) KJV

Do these two passages postulate a conflict? No, and no others do either when properly understood.

The Greek word in verse 2 translated “burden” is “baros,” literally means grief. These are burdens of the heart.

The Greek word in verse 5 translated “burden” is “phortion,” literally means responsibility. These are burdens of personal responsibility.

Compassion moves the needle regarding meeting needs or not meeting them. Some social parasites can’t be helped because they won’t help themselves.

Immediate aid may temporarily relieve them, but not really help them.

Often we sympathetic Christians get the two mixed and as “do-gooders” want to fix everything for everyone. It can’t be done until the persons are willing to do all within their capacity to help themselves. 

A compassionate social worker said to me that in helping others they find the same person coming back time after time. If they are given help they never learn personal responsibility and to help themselves.

Studies show that the average person on the street or roadside soliciting funds makes an average of $35.00 an hour.

Though we are not to judge others, that is their motive, Scripture notes “by their fruit you shall know them.” That is not judgmental, it is wise discernment. Now, turn attention to yourself. Before judging others, do as verse one advocates “considering yourself.” Often a primary hindrance to helping others is pride.  We are not to judge others, but we are to judge ourselves. The landmark statement of Christ is to consider the 2X4 in your own eye before trying to get a speck out of another person’s eye. There is not a sin that can be committed by non-Christians that can not be committed by a Christian out of the will of God.

If we don’t examine ourselves in light of Scripture, we might deceive ourselves. Self-deception results in us thinking too highly of ourselves. “Let us not become conceited.”  (Galatians 5: 26)

Self-examination should be done in light of Romans 14: 12, “So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.”

“Each one shall bear his own burden…,” responsibility. “Each one” includes you. That is, we each have our own responsibilities. We are to avoid being lazy or careless about our own responsibilities.

It is good and proper to give funds to help people in need. It is wise rather than giving to individuals who have a proven record of not assuming their own responsibility to give it to an agency committed to that task that has the will and skill to evaluate real need. In this way your compassion is doing the most good possible.  Some persons don’t have the ability to help themselves. Those we should help. If you know of a specific need of a responsible person who is in need, do what you can to help that person undemonstrably. 

Charity is wise if it is wise charity.