Onesimus was Philemon’s slave. According to the law, he could have been executed for running away. But Onesimus had run into Paul and into the arms of Jesus. Paul sent him back to Philemon with the assurance that the apostle would repay anything the runaway slave owed. Paul carried Onesimus’ burden.
Booker T. Washington wrote about an experience he had that illustrates the same principle: “The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy . . . was the wearing of a flax shirt. . . . That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was . . . the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely imagine any torture . . . that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time. But I had no choice. . . . My brother, John, who is several years older than I am, performed one of the most generous acts that I ever heard of one slave relative doing for another. On several occasions when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, he generously agreed to . . . wear it for several days, till it was ‘broken in.’”
Jesus endured the pain of the cross on our behalf. When we bear one another’s burdens, we follow His example and fulfill His will for our lives (Gal. 6:2; 1 John 3:16). Are you willing to wear someone’s new flax shirt today?
Bearing people’s heavy burdens,
Shouldering their pain and grief,
Shows the love of Christ to others,
Bringing them His sure relief. —Sper
Christ bears our burdens that we may bear the burdens of others.