“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
What would you say the “law of Christ” is? Would you say it’s the golden rule? Or maybe the 10 commandments? Personally, I think of the “greatest commands” from Matthew 22:36-40:
“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
Another that comes to mind is John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Paul’s point in saying these words specifically, “the law of Christ,” has a lot to do with the audience he is writing to in his letter to the Galatians. The Galatian church was struggling with the temptation to continue living by the old Jewish laws and traditions, rather than living as Christians set free from the law. In short, they were legalistic. They clung to the rules of Judaism as a means to righteousness rather than relying on Christ.
It’s not unlike us today. Most Christians in America grow up learning that being a Christian means following rules like: don’t cuss, don’t drink, don’t have sex before marriage, and so on. If we can follow all of these rules, we’re considered a good Christian. That’s what the Galatians were doing. But Paul is telling them that the tedium of rules and doctrine aren’t the right focus. They certainly weren’t Jesus’ focus. He says that if there’s a law worth following, it’s not legalism or the old testament law, it’s the law of Christ. And what is that? To love one another the way that Jesus did: sacrificially, selflessly, and actively.
If you, like I often do, find yourself reducing your Christian walk to a few superficial rules, remind yourself of this. Christ didn’t come to make you follow rules. He didn’t come to give you a checklist on how to be a good Christian. He came to show you what love is so that you might show it to others. Carry your neighbor’s burden. Show mercy and compassion. Give of your own time, money, and self. Be humble in relationships. Be willing to go the extra mile. Love the way that Jesus did.
Forgive me for my temptation to make my faith into a set of superficial rules. Help me to focus on the greatest commandments above all, loving you and loving others. Help me to carry the burdens of those around me as you have carried mine.
In Jesus’ Name,