Bearing One Another’s Burdens Beyond the Pale: Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? With all the heaviness in the air around us lately, the call to carry one more thing can feel overwhelming.

Life Beyond the Pale

At first glance, many around us live lives beyond the pale of acceptable human conduct. We may not know precisely what the phrase “beyond the pale” means, but we’ve all become experts at determining when someone or something has moved beyond the pale.

The phrase originated in Dublin, Ireland, in the 14th century.  On the heels of the Norman invasion, many Normans assimilated into the wilds of Irish life. Those who did not, settled in four counties in the area. These were considered the “obedient shires” and were the only parts of Ireland that were still under the rule of the English crown. 

Stakes pounded into Irish soil marked the boundary lines. These stakes were known as pales. To go beyond or live beyond these pales was to be outside the limits of English law and acceptable behavior or judgment.

We may not live outside the pales in Ireland, but we can certainly relate to living outside what is considered acceptable behavior or good judgment. We experience it one way or another every day of our lives.

The Man Beyond the Pale

Some years back, I encountered a young man who fits the description of beyond the pale perfectly. I was down the hall from him when he began to experience a full-blown autistic meltdown. Vile language streamed from his mouth like a volcanic flow as he heaved furniture to the floor.

My first reaction was fear and flight. But to flee, I had to pass the room where the meltdown was occurring. I tentatively headed in that direction, hoping to pass by undetected.

As I was about to go past the room, I couldn’t resist the urge to glance at the unfolding scene. I watched as the young man pried a bookcase from the wall, toppling it to the ground inches from where he was kneeling. 

At that moment, he looked up, and our eyes locked. Silence surrounded us for a minute until out of the hush I heard a faint cry, “Help me.”

Mesmerized by the encounter, his pain and rage and desire to be freed from both enveloped my heart. He wanted what all humans desire; to be seen, known, and loved.

It wasn’t what he deserved in the midst of his destructiveness. Some might say he deserved a harsh consequence, to be taught a lesson, to be called out for all the ways he was unloveable, and to pay the price for his actions. (Thankfully, he received mercy and care that day instead of judgment.)

Love Beyond the Pale

I walked away from this incident with a lingering thought; the young man, with every vulgar word and act of destruction, was crying for help and asking, “do you love me now?”.

If the young man had locked eyes with God that day, as he kneeled beyond the pale, God’s answer would have been a resounding YES.

“My love for you was never dependent on how great or how vile you are in the eyes of anyone – including yourself. My love for you is not dependent on you. It’s wholly dependent on the finished work of Jesus, which was and is my uninterrupted I Love You in the face of the worst depravity.”

Burden Bearing Beyond the Pale

What does this story have to do with burden-bearing and life outside the pale? 

Everything.

When we first think of burden-bearing within a faith community, we might think of heart-felt cards or a hot meal that is both kind and caring. But what does burden-bearing mean in the context of Galatians 6:2?

To get a better idea, we need to read a couple more verses from Galatians chapter 6.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:1-3)

It would appear, in this verse, to speak of one beyond the pale – one having transgressed the law and one called to bear this burden

But how?

Offering Life Beyond the Pale

Is it possible that what undergirds the movement of burden-bearing is forgiveness, the place of no condemnation when encountering the brokenness of humanity?

The last thing on most of our lists is giving grace in the face of failing, falling, and struggling.  Especially when one is struggling to believe the truth about God or themselves when confronted with the overwhelming lies of you’re no good and God’s love is not for you.

I recognized myself in the young man’s eyes that day. I, too, want to be seen, known, and loved without fear of judgment when I fail, fall, and struggle—especially when I am in the throes of destruction. 

Finding Healing Beyond the Pale

It is the love of Jesus that compels us to offer forgiveness beyond the pale.

When we offer this forgiveness in community, we offer life. And what blossoms in a burden-bearing community where the cry of “help me” is met with the forgiving love of Jesus?  

An authentic, God-given healing community.

Grace receivers are Grace givers because beyond the pale people, trust in a God who moved beyond the pale to forgive and heal His beloved. It is on bent knee, aware of their failings, they look up and lock eyes with their savior and see the uninterruptible love of God full of all mercy and grace. 

In the face of unending world crises, many of us feel parts of ourselves shutting down to survive the chaos. It’s time to once again encourage one another through life-giving communing anchored in the kind of forgiveness that comes through Jesus and flows through His forgiven ones to all the ends of the earth.

Keep the casseroles and cards coming but always remember to season them with the grace of Jesus.

2 thoughts on “Bearing One Another’s Burdens Beyond the Pale: Galatians 6:2”

  1. joyce graves @ Heart"wings"

    Saturday, April 2nd ~ Hi Kim, just to let you know that we shared your encouraging message on our public Heart”wings” Ministry page this morning.

    Thank you for reaching out to hearts around the world to further His kingdom for His purpose and glory! Amen!

    Your message can be easily located by scrolling down on our page. You can also share it by clicking on the share buttom just under your message on our page. Here is the link where it was shared [https://www.facebook.com/HeartWingsMinistry]. To include our cover message on your share, you can click on the “Include Original Post” box.

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