Burdens and Blessings

The word usually translated as “evil” in the NT is poneros which means “burdened with toil.” The opposite of burdens in Christ’s teaching is “blessings” which is makarios, which means “happy” or “fortunate.” The major blessings are listed in the Beatitudes.

The Bigger Picture

Christ divides the world into physical, social, and spiritual (interior, personal). This division describe the way humans perceive their world and perceive God in the world. God created the natural physical world. Christ comes to reform the social world, created by man, with the Kingdom of Heaven (universal rule). The Spirit, through the universal rule, privately moves the inner, personal world of individuals. Using this logic, the Trinity is not a division in God, but simply a division in how we perceive God acting in the world.

In this division of the world, our burdens and blessings don’t come from the natural, social, or spiritual world, but from the way we choose to interact with it.

On an individual level, these three realms translate into our physical needs, intellectual needs, and spiritual needs. All of these needs can be either a source of blessings or burdens. Christ (unlike John the Baptist) seldom speaks against our physical needs. Indeed, he teaches that these physical needs only become a burden when people make them more important than they are, either by denying them or by getting lost in them.

Since Christ’s focus is social, he often speaks against our “intellectual” needs to be accepted by society. This is clearly the biggest burden in society. His teaching was meant to relieve us of this burden.

On the spiritual level, Christ always talks about spirit in terms of emotions, here, the emotion of love. These emotions also can be a burden or a blessing. Here, love can take us toward God and is be a blessing. However, if we let our caring for our families become more important than what is good, that same caring becomes burden.