Galatians 6:5
A truism, yet such that, while everybody is ready to apply it to his neighbour, few are wise enough to take it home to themselves. By the very nature of the case it is always ignored where it fits most aptly. Hence the need of insisting upon it.

I. THERE ARE STRONG INDUCEMENTS FOR FORMING AN UNDULY FAVOURABLE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF. Self-knowledge is a difficult acquisition. We cannot get the right perspective. The effort of turning the mind in upon itself is arduous. Then we are inclined to take imagination and desire for direct perception, i.e. to think we possess qualities which we only picture in thought; or to measure our faculties by our inclinations, to suppose that the wish to do certain things carries with it the power. E.g. an enthusiast for the violin is likely to suppose he can handle the instrument musically before other people are of that opinion. The very habit of thinking about ourselves causes a growing sense of self-importance. Moreover, by an unconscious selection we are led to dwell on the favourable features of our own characters, and leave out of account the unfavourable.

II. A HIGH OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS COMMONLY FOUND TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW CONDITION OF REAL WORTH. Not invariably, for we sometimes find men of high endowments painfully self-assertive, either because they know that their merits have not been duly recognized, or because their vanity has been excited by the applause of their friends. Such cases reveal a weakness, and strike us as peculiarly unfortunate, for the men of worth would be wiser to wait for the acknowledgment which their merits by themselves will ultimately command had they but patience enough, or at the worst should be above caring overmuch for any such acknowledgment. Still, the merit may be real. In most cases, however, it is those who are least who boast the loudest. The man of little knowledge thinks he knows everything; wide knowledge reveals the awful vastness of the unknown, and impresses profound humility. So the holiest man is most conscious of his own sinfulness. At best, too, what right have we to think much of ourselves when all we have comes from God-our natural abilities as gifts of Providence, our spiritual attainments as graces of the Spirit?

III. AN UNDUE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS NOTHING BUT SELF-DECEPTION. It cannot long impose upon others. The world is not inclined to attach much weight to a man's own evidence in favour of himself. (Hypocrisy, or the deliberate effort to deceive others, is out of the question here, as that implies a knowledge of the falseness of our pretensions, while we are now considering the honest belief in them.) Such self-deception is unfortunate,

(1) because it will put us in a false position, incline us to make wrong claims, and to attempt the unattainable, and so result in disastrous failure;

(2) because it precludes the endeavour to improve ourselves;

(3) because it destroys the Christ-like grace of humility;

(4) because it provokes the ridicule, scorn, or even enmity of others. - W.F.A.

For every man shall bear his own burden.
1. The burden of personality. Each individual is open to manifold influence — may be impressed, drawn, turned, melted, inflamed, according to the powers that play upon him; but he is himself in all. He abides in the eye of God a separate, complete, individual soul for ever.

2. The burden of responsibility. This arises of necessity out of the personality. Man is moral, therefore responsible. The separate threads of each one's life are singled out by God for judgment.

3. The burden of guilt. Where guilt gathers, there guilt must rest until God shall remove it. And what a load it is. 'Tis this which turns the moisture into the drought of summer, which breaks the bones, drinks up the spirit, weakens strength by the way, quenches the light of hope, and cleaves and clings to the soul a burden of present judgment, and daily foretelling of doom.

4. Immortality is a man's own burden. Each is to live for ever — his own life and not another's: carrying forward with him through eternity its accumulating elements of happiness or woe.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

A man often ceases to feel it for a while. He mingles in some great and gay assemblage, and for the time feels as though his personality were gone, or in suspense. He is not as a separate drop, he is lost in an ocean of life. But in a little while the great assemblage melts all away — only the individuals are left; that which they constituted when they were together has gone for ever; and the man whose life seemed to be almost absorbed and lost in an ocean of multitudinous existence — where is he now? He is going home there pensively under the shadow of the trees, and deeply conscious of himself; with his own joys and sorrows, with his own thoughts and plans, with his soul in all its powers and affections untouched. He is bearing his own burden. Or, in a time of sorrow, other souls come around with watchful yearning love. He has letters breathing the intensest sympathy. He has visits of sincere and sorrowing affection, or he has in the house with him those who feel so deeply and truly with himself that they hardly seem to be divided in the grief. But, the letters are read, the visits are paid, the tears are shed, and then — he retires into his personality, and feels that his sorrow is his own, that none can tell the loss to him, that none can feel as he feels, that he possesses his sorrow because he possesses his soul, and that he, as every man, shall bear his own burden. A man is born alone — has his being moulded with God's plastic hand, has all his powers implanted, and the awful image of God impressed, to be carried in glory or in ruin for ever. In all the stages really, and in all the critical and important times of his life consciously, he is alone, as distinct as a tree in the forest, separate as a star in the sky. And in death he leaveth all his friends, and goeth out along the darksome valley without a hand to help, without a voice to cheer — when the dying really comes. He goeth out bearing his own burden of life from one world into another — from the things which are seen to the things which are not seen, from those which are temporal to those which are eternal .... We must think of this if we wish to be faithful and true men. It may be to some the taking up of the cross; but it must be done. Let a man examine himself. Let him sit down to weigh his burden and think: "I am one — personal, complete. I cannot mingle my being in a general tide. I cannot lose one atom of my personality. I must be myself for ever!"

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

The Greek word (φροτίον) is different from the word translated "burden" (βάρος) in ver. 2; and signifies "a burden or load, especially a ship's freight or lading." Paul was a native of Tarsus, which was situated on the Cydnus, about twenty miles from the sea; and, in Paul's time, was in the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean almost what Marseilles was in the Western. It was a place of much commerce; and St. Basil describes it as a point of union for Syrians Cilicians, Isaurians, and Cappadocians. Such was the city in which Paul was born and brought up, and from which he must have repeatedly sailed as a passenger in merchant ships going from one port to another to take in or unlade their freight (φορτίον). And thus, from his very childhood, Paul must have been quite familiar with this word as signifying a ship's freight, and he could scarcely ever have connected it with any other idea than that of something precious and valuable. This is the only place in his writings in which he uses the word. May we not suppose that he here compares believers to vessels carrying off their respective freights, varying in value; and that he means, by this nautical phrase, that each one will receive his due reward at the last day? Elsewhere he speaks of the believer's receiving a "burden (βάρος) of glory," which is a somewhat similar figure, and certainly not less harsh to our ears than the one here used (2 Corinthians 4:17). Thus translated, the connection is clear. Let each one take care to have his ground of rejoicing in his own consistent life, and not in the falls of others; and this is the reason why he should do so — viz., that each one will have a reward according to what his own life has been, without reference to what the lives of his brethren were.

(John Venn, M. A.)

Here is a man, who has "come in" for a good fortune and a good business. He has not made either the one or the ether. Those who did make the business, who watched and nurtured it from a tiny seed to a great tree with many branches, nourished and organized it so wisely that, even after they are gone, it continues, at least for a time, to grow and thrive and. bring forth fruit well-nigh of itself. The man has no serious difficulties to encounter, no rubs, no hardships, no heart-tormenting cares. He lives at his ease, carelessly, luxuriously — drives down to his counting-house now and then, but gives most of his time to pleasure or to self-pleasing pursuits. Is he likely to be either a good man or a good man of business? It is nothing short of a miracle if he is. How should he feel the gravity of life, its solemn responsibilities, or even its true joys? For want of a burden he is only too likely to leave the straight path. With nothing to bear, nothing to conquer, and not much to do, he grows indolent, self-indulgent, fastidious, perhaps hypochondriacal; and, because he has no other burden, becomes a burden to himself. But here is another man who has had to "begin life for himself." Under the pressure of necessity, he has been industrious, frugal, temperate, contriving; he knows all the ins and outs of his work; he has mastered the secrets of his craft, studied his markets, adapted himself to the time, won a good name, inspired his neighbours with respect for his ability, with confidence in his trustworthiness. In short, his burdens have made a man of him, and a true man of business. He is likely to succeed, and to be happy in his success. Up to a certain point, let us say, he has succeeded. He has a good and growing business, a considerable capital embarked in it, a comfortable home, a family trained in habits similar to his own. If you set such an one talking of his past career, you soon find that he sees how much he owes to his burdens. He will tell you himself that he thanks God for the very difficulties he once found it so hard to bear; for the obstacles which stood in his way, but which he has surmounted. If he is a thoughtful Christian man, he will also acknowledge that he has gained in character, in judgment, in patience, in energy of will, in faith in God, in charity with his neighbours, by the very trials and hardships he has had to endure. Nothing, indeed, is more common than to hear "a self-made man" refer boastfully, or thankfully, to the disadvantages, the unfavourable conditions, which he has overcome, and confess that but for these, and his resolute struggle with them, he would never have been the man he is. Whatever else, or more, a family may be, no one will deny that it is a burden. The father's broad shoulders take a new weight with every child that is born to him. He must work harder; he must think and plan, and strive not for himself alone, but that he may feed, clothe, and educate his children. Most of you fathers have, no doubt, felt at times how heavy this load is; how sharp and painful is the pressure of the anxieties it entails. But you have also felt how this burden is your help and blessing. For your children's sake you rule and deny yourselves. You know very well that if you would have them grow up with good habits, your habits must be good; that you cannot expect them to be punctual, orderly, temperate, industrious, considerate, kind, if you are unkind, thoughtless, indolent, passionate, disorderly, irregular. That you may train them in the way they should go, you try to keep the right way, to set them a good example. And thus they help you to acquire the very habits which make your own life sweet and pure, to keep the only course which leads to peace on earth or in heaven. Your burden is your benediction. Despite your good example and careful training, some of your children (let us suppose so cruel a case) do not turn out what you wish them to be: they are lazy, though you have tried to make them industrious; self-pleasing, though you have taught them self-denial; passionate and ungovernable, though you have striven to make them temperate and obedient; or even vicious, though you have done your utmost to keep them pure. And as the sad conviction grows on you that your labour has been lost, that they are settling into the very habits from which you would have made any sacrifice to preserve them, your heart fails you, and you almost give up the hope of reclaiming them. This new burden is, you say, heavier than you can bear. Oh, weak and faithless that we are! Oh, thankless and inobservant! Though every past burden has helped us, no sooner is a new and strange burden laid on us than we declare it beyond our strength. How does God prove Himself the perfect Father? What is it that we most admire in His paternal goodness? Is it that He sits among His unfallen children, shedding a heavenly bliss into their pure obedient hearts? Is it not, rather, that He comes into this fallen world to dwell with us — His prodigal and unthankful children — to suffer in and for our sins, to bear our sorrows, to pursue us with His lovingkindness and tender mercy? Is it not, rather, that He will not cease to hope for us, however hopeless and wicked we may be; that He lavishes His love upon us, even when we do not love Him, and saves and conquers us at last by a goodness which has no limit, and will not be repelled? And how shall we be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, unless we, too, bear the burdens of the weak and erring, patiently endure the ingratitude of the thankless, and overcome the evil of the wicked with our good? How shall you, fathers and mothers, become, and prove yourselves, perfect parents if you can only love the children that love you, if you cannot be patient with the disobedient, if you cannot take thought and pains to bring back those who have gone astray? This new terrible burden of sorrow and care is a new honour which God has put upon you, a new call to perfection. It is because you are strong that He asks you to bear the infirmities of the weak. It is because you are capable of the most heroic tasks of love that he taxes your love, and, by taxing, strengthens and deepens it. But take, for one example, the burden of mystery which lies on the sacred page. Most thoughtful men have felt its weight; in these days, indeed, it is hardly possible to escape its pressure. When we seek to acquaint ourselves with the truth, which is one, lo! we find it manifold; the simple and sincere Word bristles with paradox and contradiction; it opens up depths we cannot fathom, and suggests problems we cannot solve. Yet is not this burden a veritable blessing? If the inspired Word were simple and plain through-out — if it were level to the meanest understanding, and disclosed its inmost secrets to the most cursory and fugitive attention, could we study and love it as we do?

(S. Cox, D. D.)

The Christian gets stronger for his load, or he ought to. Train up your boy indoors; give him as much spending money as he wants; never put the boy to any work; and the poor little flabby creature will get to be mere pulp. But turn him out to work for himself, load on him study, toil, the necessity of supporting himself, and you graduate him to manhood. That man, at whose departure a world is mourning, fought his way up from poverty by hard struggle, until he attained that place which he filled in the eyes of the country and of the world. Now, that is the way God deals with His children. He burdens them to make them strong. He says to one of His spiritual children, "Every man shall bear his own burden; carry that;" and to another, "Every man to his work; do that:" and to another, "Every man his own cross; carry that." Between here and heaven lies many a Hill of Difficulty, as Bunyan describes it, where you and I have got to give over running for walking, and to give over walking for climbing on the knees. I have lived long enough to thank God for difficulties. They make you strong, they sinew your heart; they enlarge your faith; they bring you near to God. Burden-bearing strengthens; grappling with difficulties gives us what we so much need, and that is force; and in God's school some hard lessons have to be learnt. I think we learn our most precious lessons when we look at them through tears which make a lens for the eye. I have found the hardest lesson in this world is — what? It is to let God have His way; and the man or woman who has learnt how to let God have His way has attained the higher life — the highest on earth.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

A little girl, whom we will call Ellen, was some time ago helping to nurse a sick gentleman whom she loved very dearly. One day he said to her, "Ellen, it is time for me to take my medicine, I think. Will you pour it out for me? You must measure just a table-spoonful, and then put it in that wine-glass close by." Ellen quickly did so, and brought it to his bedside; but, instead of taking it in his own hand, he quietly said, "Now, dear, will you drink it for me?" "Will I drink it? What do you mean? I am sure I would, in a minute, if it would cure you all the same; but you know it won't do you any good, unless you take it yourself." "Won't it, really?" the gentleman replied. "No, I suppose it will not. But Ellen, if you can't take my medicine for me, I can't take your salvation for you. You must go to Jesus, and believe in Him for yourself." In this way he tried to teach his little friend that each human being must seek salvation for him-self — repent, believe, obey, for himself: that this is a burden which no man can bear for his brother.

Bishop Burnet, in his charges to the clergy of his diocese, used to be extremely vehement in his declamations against pluralities. In his first visitation to Salisbury he urged the authority of St. Bernard; who being consulted by one of his followers, whether he might accept of two benefices, replied, "And how will, you be able to serve them both?" "I intend," answered the priest, "to officiate in one of them by a deputy." "will your deputy suffer eternal punishment for you too?" asked the saint. "Believe me, you may serve your cure by proxy, but you must suffer the penalty in person." This anecdote made such an impression on Mr. Kelsey, a pious and wealthy clergyman then present, that he immediately resigned the rectory of Bernerton, in Berkshire, worth two hundred a year, which he then held with one of great value.


1. This is inevitable. Each has his burden of




(4)bodily infirmities;


2. This is salutary.

(1)To utilize our powers.

(2)To develope our excellences.

II. BROTHERLY HELP (ver. 2). The carrying of our own load gives strength to carry the burden of others.

(1)The burden of trial.

(2)Of poverty.

(3)Of bearing a wandering brother to Christ.

III. DIVINE HELP (Psalm 55:22).

(1)The burden of anxiety.

(2)Of sin.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

I. Man is INDEPENDENT, φορτίον, one's own proper burden, a packman's bag, a soldier's kit. Responsibilities of life, of parents, masters, teachers, is not a curse but a privilege, which is thrown away when we endeavour to throw it on others.

2. Fruits of past conduct.

II. Men are INTERDEPENDENT (ver. 2), βαρη, burdens which may be shifted or borne by another.

1. A man's infirmities, temptations, poverty, stumblings (ver. 1).

2. The mutual blessedness of this interdependence.

III. Men are ABSOLUTELY DEPENDENT. (Psalm 55:22): burdens sent as a portion from God.

1. Affliction.

2. Consciousness of guilt.

(D. A. Taylor, M. A.)


II. OUR BROTHER'S (ver. 2).

III. OUR LORD'S (ver 17) By bearing the FIRST we relieve our Lord's trouble: if every man bore his own burden, instead of shirking it, the will of God would be done on earth as it is in heaven. By bearing the SECOND we relieve our brother's trouble. Either by sympathy or substitution. By bearing the THIRD we relieve our own: the trouble of doubt, of sin, of controversy.




1. This is a great thought.

2. An awful thought.

3. A thought we cannot shake off.


1. All deep thinking people live apart from others.

2. Sympathy may lighten their burden, but still it is their own.

3. Pain and death prove this.

IV. THE PRESENT LIFE CANNOT EXPLAIN ALL THIS. We must go to Revelation: there we find —

1. That this great mystery is the gift of individual being from God (Genesis 2:7).

2. That we have a will that can resist the almighty will of God.

3. That the whole volume is a history of the conflict of the human will with the Divine, and of God's endeavour to win the human will by redemption.

4. That every healed will owes its healing to Divine grace.


1. The will is either hardening itself against God, or —

2. is being drawn into harmonious action with the will of God.


1. The great importance of acting in the remembrance of our responsibility.

2. The necessity of securing times for self-examination and prayer.

3. The need of claiming our place in Christ the new and living man.

(Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.)

The world proposes rest by the removal of a burden. The Redeemer gives rest by giving us the spirit and power to bear the burden.

(F. W. Robertson.)

I. This, then, is my first proposition, namely, that every one must bear the burden of his own sins, both as concerns this life and the next. The results of sin are strictly individual. It is with the soul as with the body, with the spirit as with the flesh. If you thrust a knife into your arm, it does not affect me. You yourself feel the pain; you yourself must endure the agony. I may sympathize, I may pity, I may bandage the gash, but the severed flesh, and the lacerated fibres are yours, and along your nerves nature telegraphs the pain. So it is with the soul. A man who stabs himself with a bad habit, who opens the arteries of his higher life with the lancet of his passions, and drains them of the vital fluid, who inserts his head within the noose of appetite and swings himself off from the pedestal of his self-control, must endure the suffering, the weakness, and the loss which are the issue of his insane conduct. In morals there is no copartnership, no pro rata division of profit and loss. Each man receives according to the summation of his own account.

II. I have alluded to the individuality of moral responsibility. I have striven to show you that each one must endure his own sufferings, and abide the result of his own actions, and that in this no one can share with him. Not only is this true in respect to moral responsibility, but it is equally true in respect to moral growth. You may place two trees side by side, so that their branches shall interlace, and the fragrance of their blossoms intermingle, and yet in their growth each is separate. Covered by the same soil, moistened by the same drop, warmed by the same ray, the roots of either collect and reinforce the trunks of each, with their respective nourishment. Each tree grows by a law of its own growth, and the law of its own effort. The sap of one, in its upward or downward flow, cannot desert its own channels and feed the fibres of the other. So it is with two Christians. Planted in the same soil, drawing their sustenance from the same source, they, nevertheless, extract it through individual processes of thought and life. In daily contact and communion, whether in floral or fruitful states intermingling, equal in girth and height, equal in the results of their growth, the spiritualized currents of the one mind cannot become the property of the other. They cannot exchange duties. They cannot exchange hopes. I cannot think for you, or you for me. We cannot meditate for one another. Soul-food, like bodily food, is assimilated by each man for himself. See what determination the world manifests in pursuit of carnal things; over what sharp obstacles men mount to honour and wealth. A worldly man asks no help from another. He plays the game of life boldly, asking no odds. When he comes to an obstruction, he puts his shoulder bravely against it, and rolls it aside or climbs over it. Nay, more, out of the very fragments of a previous overthrow he erects a triumph. Nothing overawes him nor discourages him. He asks no one to bear his burden. He bears it himself, and finds it to be a source of strength and power. And shall a Christian shrink from what a worldling bravely attempts? Shall we unto whom the heavens minister, faint when those to whom the gates of power are shut persevere? These things ought not so to be. What is a slip? What is a scar? What is a fall? They will all testify to the perils you endured, and the heroism of your perseverance, at the Last Day. Think not of these. Write on your banner, where, living or dying, your eyes shall behold them, these words: "He who endureth unto the end shall be saved.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

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