She calls you again, asking you to fill in just one more time because they’re short on volunteers. You know this wouldn’t be a problem if she planned better, but you also feel like you have no right to say “no.” The ministry is such a burden on her, and the Bible tells you clearly: “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

Sometimes bearing someone else’s burdens can be a stumbling block, though. You find that your “help” actually enables others to continue in unhealthy patterns or behaviors. You might mean well by helping, but you may be wrongly handling a later verse: “for each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:5).

How can you distinguish between carrying other’s burdens and enabling them?

Several other verses in Galatians 6 help us to recognize the difference:

“Watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” Galatians 6:1

When you take on more than the Lord asks of you, there is a price. For every hour or dollar you give up enabling someone else, you lose an hour or dollar you could have used better. In the process, your family, friends, and relationship with God may suffer.

Doing something that doesn’t seem wrong, like helping someone else (again!) feels tempting, not peaceful. It tempts you to sacrifice the stuff God has given you or asked of you in order to please the person you’re helping.

The Lord never asks you for more than what He is providing for. So when you find yourself overwhelmed, it’s worth asking: “why?”

“Each one should test their own actions” Galatians 6:4

Overloading yourself sounds crazy, right? We all do it. There are lots of reasons why, like wanting to please others, look good, feel important, or assuage guilt.

As you step up to help others, test your heart and your actions. You may be surprised to find that your “care” for others is actually about yourself. In which case, are you fulfilling the law of Christ? Can you tell if you are enabling someone else when you are enabling yourself?

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves” Galatians 6:3

This goes both ways. Often when people are exaggerating their normal, God-given loads into burdens, it’s because they deceive themselves.

To make a simple problem into a dramatic issue, you have to make what you do out to be far more important than it is, or you must make yourself into so much less than you are that you don’t believe you can handle even the basics of life.

At the same time, if you find that you constantly take on what other’s need to do for themselves, then you’ve deceived yourself into thinking that your help is more important than it is. Translation: you might think you are more important than you are, or that your worth is in what you do, not in Christ.

“Then they can take pride in themselves…without comparing themselves to someone else” Galatians 6:4

We all have different loads and burdens to carry in life. As Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “accept (your) lot and be happy…this is a gift of God.” You can take (Godly!) pride in relying on Christ with your load in life. Yet so many of us aren’t satisfied with what He’s given us. Instead, we compare ourselves with others.

Watch out. When you start comparing yourself to others, it’s easy to neglect your load and make it into an unnecessary burden. Look out for loved ones who do the same, flattering you in comparison to themselves or exaggerating their loads in comparison to others.