The Three Bears

[396 words]

Once upon a time, there were three bears… No, no, no—that’s the wrong three bears. Far from a fairy tale, the three “bears” listed in Galatians 6 are vital to living a fulfilling Christian life. Of course, you may have already figured out that these are not the furry animals, but the concept of carrying a responsibility. Now, let’s look at the three “bears.”

Bear One Another’s Burdens (v.1-2). This means that we are supposed to help others, especially those in the church (v.10). Life is especially burdensome for some and, as we are able, we should help them carry their load. For ease of remembering, let’s call this first bear “Share Bear.”

Bear Your Own Burdens (v.3-5). This passage teaches the need for personal responsibility that another cannot carry for us: our personal decisions, the consequences of our actions, our own individual responsibilities, etc. We should not let others bear these for us. The words that follow in v.6-9 are a great admonition to just how individual this concept is. We will name this bear “Aware Bear.”

Bear the Marks of Christ in Your Body (v.11-17). Paul bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ (likely physically from beatings, mistreatment, etc.). But there is another indication in the word “marks” in the Greek text. It is the Greek word “stigma” and literally means “a mark pricked or branded upon the body.” Paul may very well be saying, I am branded with the mark of Christ—not that he had a tattoo, but that he was totally dedicated to Christ—he was Christ’s slave. This is why I believe Paul used the phrase “the Lord Jesus”—Jesus was Paul’s Lord and Master (v.14). Thus we need to be willing to bear the marks (or stigma) that come from faithfully following Christ and telling others about Him. Thus, let’s identify this bear as “Declare Bear.”

My hope for all of us is what Paul’s was for the Galatian Christians: “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (v.18). And let us be reminded that it will be so if we bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus (be a Declare Bear), be responsible with ourselves and our lives (be an Aware Bear), and help others (be a Share Bear).

Edd Sterchi
Broadway church of Christ
Campbellsville, KY

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