The Broad Shoulders of Love

Martin Luther, commenting on Galatians 6:2, wrote:

To love does not mean, as the sophists imagine, to wish someone else well, but to bear someone else’s burdens, that is, to bear what is burdensome to you and what you would rather not bear. Therefore a Christian must have broad shoulders and husky bones to carry the flesh, that is, the weakness, of the brethren; for Paul says that they have burdens and troubles. Love is sweet, kind, and patient – not in receiving but in performing; for it is obliged to overlook many things and to bear with them. In the church faithful pastors see many errors and sins which they are obliged to bear. In the state the obedience of subjects never lives up to the laws of the magistrate; therefore if he does not know how to conceal things, the magistrate will not be fit to rule the commonwealth. In the family many things happen that displease the householder. But if we are able to bear and overlook our own faults and sins, which we commit in such great numbers every day, let us bear those of others as well, in accordance with the statements: “Bear one another’s burden” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).

Luther, Martin Luther’s Works, v. 27, Lectures on Galatians 113-114