Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 There is an amazing exchange between two friends tucked into the Bible book of II Kings. Elisha, the prophet, and his ministering servant find themselves in a very bad situation. Israel’s enemy, the Arameans, have snuck up and surrounded their hometown of Dothan. The Arameans are led by Ben-hadad and he and his force intended to kill Elisha and the entire community. In the morning, the servant went outside to gather water and light the fire for breakfast. Suddenly he saw an overwhelming number of horses and chariots ringing their town. He rushed to Elisha’s side and shouted out his fear: “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” Let’s stop the story for a moment. We’ve all no doubt been in situations where a friend or co-worker has sought out our counsel in the midst of a very tough spot. In their fear and frustration, they likely shouted out a similar question, a question formed in their panic. And how did we respond? Maybe it wasn’t a convenient time to deal with someone else’s problem. It’s easy to be quick to respond with a solution, to try to “fix” their problem with a Bible verse or even a Christian platitude. In a hurry to “counsel” someone, we might answer in haste, “Calm down—everything will work out!” But look at the example Elisha gives us in this story. (II Kings 6:16-17). His response to his panicked friend has three parts to it. He starts by recognizing the intense fear that his friend has, and he encourages him by reminding him “Do not be afraid.” He doesn’t ignore the intensity of the moment; he enters right into it. And then Elisha offers the servant some Godly advice out of the scriptures. He assures him that, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16) After his patient encouragement, Elisha shares some Biblical facts with his friend. And finally, he stops and prays a simple prayer for the servant, “Lord open his eyes so he may see.” (v. 17) When God did so, the servant saw the multitude of angels also surrounding the town. The hills were full of horses and chariots of fire, an incredible symbol of God’s power. If you read the story, you’ll find that God had an incredible solution to the situation which resulted in Israel’s enemies blindly marching into captivity, getting a meal and being sent home! Even in the midst of a dire situation, Elisha took the time to console and encourage his servant. He demonstrated the direction the Apostle Paul would later give to the Christ-followers in New Testament Galatia, saying, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Elisha’s actions point forward, to Christ’s others-centered law. In the words of the great Christian reformer, Martin Luther, “The Law of Christ is the Law of love. Christ gave us no other law than this law of mutual love: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.” To love means to bear another’s burdens.” What a great example Elisha gave us of how to “bear another’s burdens, through encouragement! So, this week, if a friend seeks some help or counsel, slow down and take some time to care for your friend. Acknowledge and address their need. Take time to encourage them. Then share a scripture or thought out of God’s Word. And don’t forget to pray. Pray simply and with heart. This is what it means to “bear one another’s burdens.” And then watch what happens as God lifts their burden. What Elisha told his frightened friend is true today for us in our distress: “Greater is He that is with us, than He that is in the World.” (1 John 4:4). Resource reading: 2 Kings 6:8-23  Luther, Martin. “Martin Luther's Bible Commentary New Testament Only,” 2020. https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=luth.
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