What Does It Mean to Bear One Another’s Burdens?

After defending the words of Abinadi and being banished by King Noah, Alma preached to a growing group of followers in secret. One day, he challenged them to make their commitment to the gospel and to each other more formal:

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts (Mosiah 18:8-11).

The people were subsequently baptized and organized into a church.

One of the criteria for baptism specified by Alma is to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” Alma knew that this was more than a theoretical promise. Abinadi had prophesied that these people would “have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass” (Mosiah 12:5). Shortly after their baptism, they fled from the armies of King Noah, only to fall into captivity to one of Noah’s priests. During that time, they carried heavy burdens as they were forced to labor for their captors (Mosiah 24:9-15). Eventually, as a result of their patient faith, they were miraculously delivered from bondage.

Followers of God have always tried to make life easier for the people around them:

  • Moses was called to bring the children of Israel “out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6-7).
  • Isaiah said that the reason he fasted was to “undo the heavy burdens, and…break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).
  • Jesus sharply rebuked the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers for “[binding] heavy burdens” on other people which “they themselves will not move…with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:4, Luke 11:46).
  • The reason King Benjamin labored with his own hands was to reduce the burden his government placed on the people (Mosiah 2:14). His son, Mosiah, followed his example, tilling the earth “that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people” (Mosiah 6:7).

The apostle Paul was also careful not to become burdensome to the people he taught (2 Corinthians 11:9, 2 Corinthians 12:13-14, 1 Thessalonians 2:6). He gave the Galatian saints the same admonition which Alma had given to his people:

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Today, I will lighten the burdens of the people around me. Like Benjamin, Mosiah, and Paul, I will strive to minimize the burdens my actions place on other people, including those I lead. I will also look for ways I can help people with the challenges they face and the tasks they are responsible to complete.

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