Jesse Jackson tells the story of a visit he made to the University of Southern Mississippi. While touring the campus with the university president, he noticed a towering male student, who was six-feet, eight-inches tall, holding hands with a female midget who looked about three-feet tall. Jackson watched curiously as the young man then tenderly picked up the midget, gave her a kiss, and sent her off to class. The president noticed Jackson’s interest in the unique couple and explained the situation to him. The tall male was the school’s star basketball player. Both of his parents had died when he was young and he had made a vow to look after his younger sister, who had grown to a height of only 39 inches. The young man had received scholarship offers to play basketball for various major universities. Southern Mississippi was the only school, however, which offered a scholarship to his sister too.
Jackson went over to the basketball player, introduced himself and said, “Young man, I really appreciate and admire how you are looking out for your sister.” The athlete shrugged and replied, “Those of us God makes six-eight have to look out for those he makes three-three.”
Friends, this young man understood and was applying a very important biblical principle: we as Christians need to look out for each other. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Carry each other’s burdens and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) As we see other folks around us struggling with some aspect of life, we should not simply turn our heads and say, “Well, that is too bad, but it is not my problem.” The heavy burdens which many people carry through life, for example burdens of guilt, fear, sinful addictions, loneliness, spiritual emptiness and despair, are indeed “my problem.” God has put each of us on this planet to help one another. The Lord expects that we encourage each other to live in a way that honors Him.
We have a special responsibility to help those whom the Bible refers to as “the weak.” In Acts 20:35 Paul says, “In all things I have shown you that…we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 we read, “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” That means those of us who are “bigger” in a physical, emotional, financial or spiritual, sense need to look out for those who are “smaller.”
Of course, those who are “smaller” need to be willing to take responsibility in their own lives. After telling the Galatian Christians that we are to “carry each other’s burdens,” Paul quickly adds, “For each one should carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) Those who struggle with different problems should not blame others for their situation. It was not her brother’s fault that the female student was only three-foot three. Nor should anyone demand help from others, or expect someone else to do for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. The “law of Christ” which Paul refers to in Galatians 6:2 is simply a willingness to love and help people, even if they are not able to do the same for us. If we as Christians would follow this law, the church (and the world) would be a better place.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church