Dear Inspiration Seekers,
Paul seems to contradict himself in these few verses about carrying each other’s burdens and carrying one’s own load. Why does the Congressional Super Committee (charged with finding $1T in spending cuts) come to mind?
To put this in context, after the acts-of-sin and fruit-of-the-Spirit verses, Paul states, “Let us not become conceited…” (5:26), followed by, “… if someone is caught in sin…” (6:1). As much as we might like to believe that in our justice system an accused person is innocent until proven guilty (e.g. caught in sin), we do not wait for the judicial system to present evidence, reach a verdict, and set a sentence (anyone heard of Penn State recently? or Herman Cane?), but we convict them in the media. Rather, Paul advocates that our role is to “carry each other’s burdens”. Paul suggests a sequence: conceit (self-centeredness and importance) leads to temptation, which leads to sin, which leads to the burdens of those sins. Paul does not execute the sinner but admonishes the righteous to make up for the sin. Having developed some of those spiritual fruits might help us with the responsibility.
In my view, most government laws, rules, and regulations, now into the hundreds of thousand’s of pages of federal and state documents, are reactionary to some prior abuse. Rarely do the governing bodies and executives plan ahead and create laws in anticipation of what would be good for society. And, often when they attempt to, critics complain of government intrusion and fixing problems that do not exist. Health care if full of regulations from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of MD’s, therapists, and facilities playing the reimbursement game to their own financial gain rather than for health benefit of their patients. Energy and manufacturing sectors have all sorts of rules with which to comply because of past abuses of the environment and workers. Political bodies have ethics committees with rules because the qualities that encourages one to run for office often have something to do with conceit, which leads to corruption and affairs with office staff (was that Gingrich storming to impeach Clinton, while he was getting it on with one of his staff?).
So, we now have a Super Committee that is supposed to sort through decades of spending promises that were supposed to take up the burden of prior people’s and organizations sins to figure out which of these we can live without. I suspect the DemoCANT’s committee members would read this passage and justify many past laws as means of society through government action carrying each other’s burdens. Meanwhile, the RepubliCANT’s would focus on the last verse, wanting to cut out not just $1T in spending, but much more in order that each person might carry his own load. They view government programs as promoting dependency of the citizens (and all those illegal aliens, whom I guess slip in through sector 51 in Nevada or Roswell, NM) and thereby usurping personal responsibility.
Maybe the committee needs to read the verses in between other’s burdens and one’s own load, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself”. The objective of carrying other’s burdens is not to bring attention to one’s self (conceit), but to fulfill the law of Christ (love your neighbor). The reason for carrying one’s own load is not to show how much better one is compared to someone else, but to be proud that one’s efforts are effective.
If I were to give advise to the Super Committee, in their last days before they send our economy and military over the next cliff, I would quote my father-in-law’s good old New England proverb: “Love many, Trust few, Always paddle your own canoe.” That aught to leave them scratching their heads for a day or two.
Until next time, Inspiration Seekers