“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone and not of another. For each man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:2-5). These verses are connected in thought and instruction with verse one where an exhortation is made that spiritual ones restore those overtaken in a trespass. Bearing one another’s burdens then signifies that when one does fall into sin, we are to be understanding, realizing how strong temptation is and how susceptible all men are to it because of the weakness of our flesh. One has been surprised into sin needs our help. We do not condone the sin the brother committed, but we do offer our help and encouragement to him. The law of Christ is that we love one another, even those who fall into sin. Such is the example Christ left us.
“For if a man thinketh himself to be something …” Warning against pride is given here. The proud heart is riding for a fall. The Psalmist wrote of the compassion God has for us in our weakness. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so Jehovah pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:13f). This passage does not mean that sometimes God forgets the lowly state of man, and then calls it back to mind. He means that man’s frailty is always in God’s mind as He deals with His children. Nor must we suppose that Paul means to say that sometimes a man thinks himself to be something, and he is! He means that should a man think of himself to be something, he is wrong for he is nothing. Paul wrote the Romans, “For I say to every man among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but so to think as to think soberly” (Rom. 12:3). How could any man think himself to be something when Paul regarded himself “the chief of sinners” and Jesus’ response to the Rich Young Ruler who called him “Good Master”: “Why callest thou me good” (1 Tim. 1:15; Mk. 10:17)?
So he says, “But let each man prove his own works.” Self examination is necessary. Paul wrote Corinthians, “Try your own selves whether ye be in the faith. Prove your own selves …” (2 Cor. 13:5). The Corinthians also were urged to “let a man examine himself” before he observed the supper. “Then shalt he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor.” When we make comparative analysis, it isn’t too hard to find reason to glory in ourselves. We don’t look very hard to find someone who looks better than we! But, when it is only self we are comparing by the Standard, then we don’t look good at all!
“For each man shall bear his own burden.” When we ultimately stand before God we will give account based upon how we compare to the Word, not how we compare with others. We must each give an account of self to God. There we shall “bear our own burden,” be responsible for our own sins and there be profoundly grateful for the grace that brought salvation to us. “Not by works done in righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5).