Paul Powell tells the story of Beverly King, who at one point was the richest man in Graham, Texas. Powell’s presence was large in Graham since he owned the hotel, was a big-time stockholder and director at the bank, not to mention other business interests. Yet for all his money and status, he seldom dressed or acted the part. He usually spent his week going about town in his work clothes distributing books of matches advertising the bank. Given his unpretentious demeanor, he was mistaken one day by a traveling salesman for the town loafer. The salesman was having car trouble and was told by the local garage owner that he would have to stay a night in the hotel while his car was being fixed. The salesman asked Beverly King, who happened to be about the garage that afternoon, if he would mind carrying his bags down to the hotel. Mr. King decided to play along for the fun of it. As they both moved toward the hotel, Mr. King in tow with a bag in each hand, the salesman said, “As I came into town, I noticed a big house built on the hill. It must have been four or five thousand square feet.” Mr. King said, “Yes, I have seen it.” The stranger continued, “That surprises me. I would not have thought anybody around here could afford a house like that. Do you know who owns it?” Mr. King replied, “Yes, it belongs to me.” The salesman took a second look at Mr. King, and then said, “How in the world could you afford a house like that?” Mr. King replied, “By carrying my own bags.”
That is a good word! As we make our way through life, we need to carry our own bags, we need to take primary responsibility for our own lives. While God is always there to help, and others to shoulder the burdens of life, each of us has a God-given duty to do our part to solve our problems, and meet our obligations. Reliance upon God and help from others is not a substitute for lack of insight, industry, or ingenuity on our part.
In life, some burdens are to be shed! Psalm 55:22 illustrates the Lord inviting us to cast [throw] our burdens on Him that He might sustain us. The word “burden” carries the idea of that which has been allotted. Therefore, whatever the situation and struggle in life we can go to God and ask for the grace necessary to handle that which God has allotted. The promise evidenced is not to save us from the burdens and blows of life, but to sustain us in them.
In life, some burdens are to be shared! Paul calls the church to come alongside the hurting, the wounded, and the fallen and nurse them back to spiritual health and strength (Galatians 6:1-2). There is to be compassion not condemnation. There is to be restoration not rejection. We are not to bury our wounded!
In life, some burdens are to be shouldered! Paul continues on in Galatians 6:5 to remind Christians to bear his own load. Interestingly, this is the picture of the Roman Soldier carrying his backpack. In the normal course of life, the Christian is to lift their assigned gear. The Christian is someone who gladly does his or her part at home, at church, at work, and within the community.
Don’t forget to carry your own bags today!