Bible Study: Biblical Directives, Examples, and Applications of Burden Sharing

1. Understanding the Terms

Burden: Something perceived to be beyond the ability to cope, not related to a desire to carry.

Sharing: To willingly and happily assist others by giving from God’s blessings or helping them lighten their load.

Love: The attitude of the heart which sees others as more important than oneself and manifests itself in activities of sacrifice for the benefit of others.

2. Biblical Directives

Romans 12:10 – Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Proverbs 31:8-9 – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14 – And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

1 Timothy 5:16 – If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Matthew 5:39-44 – But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'”

Romans 13:9 – The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

3. Biblical Examples

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor.

Genesis 13:5-11 – Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company.

2 Samuel 4:4 & 9:2-11 – (Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.) . . . Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “Your servant,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “Your servant,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

Hebrews 6:10 – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Matthew 8:17 – This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

Acts 3:2 – Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.

Matthew 25:35-36 – “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Discussion Questions:

1. When does someone’s burden become yours to share?

2. How are you prompted to carry a burden? Asked? Shamed? Forced?

3. What burdens are easy for you to carry for others?

4. What burdens are difficult for you to carry for others?

5. How do you balance carrying other burdens and caring for your family/self?

6. How do you carry the burden of those who need help but won’t accept it?


Answers to Discussion Questions:

1. When does someone’s burden become yours to share?
It is sometimes a fine line between letting people learn to cope with their problems and having to step in and provide some form of assistance. This discussion question is intended to let the class understand where that line may be and to perhaps reveal a pattern of excuse-making to avoid helping someone carry a burden.

2. How are you prompted to carry a burden? Asked? Shamed? Forced?
When someone finally acts to help carry a burden there is a reason why. You will want to lead the class to consider why they responded to this burden and why they responded at the time they did.

3. What burdens are easy for you to carry for others?
Some things may be burdens for others, but not a burden for you. This question is to get the class to consider their own personal criteria for their willingness to help others carry their burdens. Perhaps they are only willing to carry the easy burdens or burdens that may “interest” them. You will want to lead the class to consider meeting the needs of the one who is suffering rather than meeting only those needs that are comfortable for them to help with.

4. What burdens are difficult for you to carry for others?
Like discussion question C, this one is to help the class consider the hard and easy burdens to carry and the need for them to consider helping with both kinds.

5. How do you balance carrying other burdens and caring for your family/self?
Sometimes a caring person faces a conflict between devoting time to care for others and devoting time to care for his own responsibilities. This question should allow the class to discuss how to balance acts of love to others with responsibilities already within the family.

6. How do you carry the burden of those who need help but won’t accept it?
There are those people with great burdens who resist the assistance of anyone else. Use this question to discuss not only how one can still help in such situations but also when a person must accept the reality that he cannot help.

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