Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Good morning Prayer Team!
This section of Galatians ends with a reminder to bear one another’s burdens. This not just a friendly reminder of a suggestion but a note that this is a commandment. The law of Christ indicates that we are to bear one another’s burdens.
The Law of the Old Testament had 613 different commandments. The Law of Christ had only two—to love God and to love one another. The greatest examples of love are not in words, but in actions. For love is not “said” but it is demonstrated in actions.
Imagine that you and a friend are each carrying a backpack that weighs thirty pounds. And then your friend gets a sore back and says he is struggling to carry his. To bear one another’s burdens means that in this example, you volunteer to carry sixty pounds, your pack and his, so that he can rest his tired back for a while. When your friend feels better and takes his pack back, you don’t expect him to carry yours. You’ve given without expectation of return. However, when you have a sore back, you are confident that he will carry yours, and he is eager to do so.
Sometimes the burden isn’t relieved by doing something physical. Sometimes the burden is relieved with encouragement, with kind words, or with sound advice. And sometimes neither words nor actions are needed. Sometimes the burden is shared just by being present with someone. A person in a hospital may just need someone to sit with them, to pass the time with them. All patients need encouragement, and all certainly need prayer.
When is the last time you visited a non-family member or close friend in a hospital? When is the last time you asked someone if you could pray with them? When is the last time you went out of your way to encourage someone? Or compliment them? When is the last time you asked someone if you could “carry their pack” for them for a little while?
To fulfill the law of Christ, bearing each other’s burdens needs to become an everyday occurrence. The Fruit of the Spirit point us to bearing one another’s burdens. Bearing one another’s burdens help our Fruit to mature. They go hand in hand.
Self-control means discipline. To bear one another’s burdens requires a concerted effort to be disciplined in looking for those who need help and stepping forward to offer it.
Gentleness is the way in which we help our brother carry his burdens. Gentleness means to be sincere in our offer to help.
Faithfulness goes hand in hand with consistency. Helping one another ideally becomes part of our daily life.
Goodness sees our neighbor through a positive lens. A neighbor in need is not seen negatively or looked down upon, but rather we seek to lift up our neighbor, to restore his spirit of positivity.
Kindness teaches us that it is not only big burdens that our neighbor needs help with. Small acts of compassion go a long way in lifting off heavy burdens.
Patience means that we never get tired of helping our neighbors in carrying their burdens.
Peace reminds us that bearing one another’s burdens promotes not only harmony between two people but builds harmony in the greater world. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone was carrying the burdens of others consistently.
Joy is the attitude we should have when helping others. We don’t help out of obligation or in expectation of reward or recognition. We receive intrinsic joy when we help others.
Love is not only a commandment of Christ but a gift. He loves us, we love Him, and we show that love when we help others, and we receive that love when others help us. The law of Christ is the law to love one another, to sacrifice for one another, to put one another’s needs ahead of our own.
Lord, thank You for the people who help me carry my burdens (list them). Help me to always run to help carry the burdens of others. Help me to answer the call to help with love, with joy, so that I may help to promote peace, may I offer it always with patience, may I see opportunities both large and small to help my neighbors, may I see the good in others, may I be faithful in helping others, may I offer help in ways that are gentle and may I be disciplined to always see my neighbor and to run to him to help in any way that I can. Please help me to fulfill Your Law of love by always helping my neighbor. Thank You for my neighbors who are always helping me. Amen.
Keep your eyes open to the needs of others today!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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