"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Biblical Faux Pas?

        Some folks, whether they call themselves atheists, naturalists, humanists, rationalists, agnostics, or even "progressive" Christians, readily glom onto apparent contradictions within the Bible. Well, this morning I found a good one, ready made for the skeptics:
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 KJV) and For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galatians 6:5 KJV)
        Just three verses apart, yet they obviously contradict one another. Okay, Bible-thumper, explain that one!         As it turns out, the critics are dead wrong—as usual. The faux pas belongs to them alone. Here is the whole passage, not taken out of its Biblical context:
Galatians 6:1-5 KJV Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2)Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3)For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (4)But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (5)For every man shall bear his own burden.
        The Greek words translated burdens and burden, respectively, are entirely different. The burdens of verse two (G922 βάρος baros; Thayer Definition: heaviness, weight, burden, trouble) refer to the guilty brother's deviations from God's way. Any true child of God doesn't sin easily, and that sin instantly becomes a burden of the heaviest variety. As an act of love, we are to help the fallen brother or sister bear, and recover from, their burden of sin. We can't do it for them, and we must certainly avoid sympathizing with their sin. For in doing so, our enemy drags us into it with them.         Now, to the burden of verse five: G5413 φορτίον for-tee'-on; Strong's Definition: an invoice (as part of freight), that is, (figuratively) a task or service. In the passage's context, this burden refers to the believer's own good works and achievements—in obedience to God's way—not compared to the works, or the failures, of others. Contrary to the customary "humility" we are expected to exhibit regarding God's work in our lives, this passage directs us to rejoice in it, but not in comparison with anyone else's victories or defeats. That sort of pride is what God condemns as vain pride.         So, instead of being a self-contradictory, Biblical faux pas, this portion of God's word spoon-feeds us the most valuable, and at times difficult, rule of godly living that Jesus gave us: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34 )

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