by Roger D. Campbell
The Lord God created bears, along with other animals, on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1:24,25). As a young man, David killed both a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34-36). The Old Testament also records that two she bears attacked the lads that mocked the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2:23,24).
There are, however, others “bears” about which we read in the Bible that are of far greater consequence to children of God than the physical critters. There are some “bears” that have been off limits throughout the ages, such as taleBEARing (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 18:8) and BEARing false witness (Exodus 20:16; Romans 13:9).
On the other hand, there are some “bears” that God requires. Let us note a few of these important “bears” for Christians about which we read in the New Testament. The Lord wants each Christian to —
1. Bear his own cross each day – “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Whatever the hardship, whatever the challenge, whatever the self-denial required, whatever the responsibility, whatever the difficulty, we must bear this cross for the sake of our Lord Jesus. Cross bearing is a personal matter: “For every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5).
2. Bear fruit – God takes away every branch that does not bear fruit (John 15:2). The branch (disciple) that abides in Jesus, and Jesus in that branch, the same “bringeth forth much fruit” (15:5). Jesus went on to tell His apostles, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (15:8). We are to strive to be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (Philippians 1:11). The fruit of the Spirit is to be seen in God’s children, one and all (Galatians 5:22,23).
3. Bear temptations – When one becomes a Christian, temptations are not removed. Not at all. Indeed, in some cases they may intensify after a person obeys the gospel. Here is God’s comforting news: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Thank God for providing us with a way of escape, that we with His help can bear or endure our sundry temptations.
4. Bear the infirmities of weak brethren – “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). This is stated in a context in which the Holy Spirit instructs saints to avoid doing things that might cause a brother to stumble (14:13,21), and to follow after peace and things that edify (14:19). In those affairs that that are simply matters of opinion or are in the realm of judgment, the strong (those that have true knowledge in such areas but want to be forbearing with those who are of a different persuasion) are to attempt to please others for the edification of the church (15:2).
5. Bear the burdens of those saints that are overtaken in a trespass – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1,2). If a brother or sister is somehow burdened with sin, then we need to try to help them bear such a burden – our motive is to restore such a one in order that his/her soul might be saved from permanent spiritual death (James 5:19,20).
6. ForBEAR other saints – “Forbearing [‘bearing with,’ NKJV] one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13). When we think about our need to bear with one another, two other Bible statements come to mind. First, love suffers long and is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Second, love “shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
One who lives in sin and refuses to repent needs to be rebuked (Ephesians 5:11). However, in matters that simply involve differences in personality or opinion, we need to strive to bear with one another. If we have genuine love for our brethren, then we will want to be longsuffering with them and overlook what we might consider to be weaknesses in their personality. Also, we need to bear with new babes in the Christ as they struggle to walk without wavering.
These six “bears” that we have noted ought to be a part of the life of each disciple of the Christ. Every one of us needs to bear his own cross, bear fruit, bear temptations, bear the infirmities of weak brethren, bear the burdens of those that are overtaken in a fault, and bear with one another.