Martin Luther Commentary on Galatians 6:5

ImageLuther on Galatians 6:5 “For each will have to bear his own load”

It is as if Paul were saying: “It is the height of insanity to look for the ground of your boasting in others, not in yourself. For in your death struggle and at the Last Judgment it will not help you at all that others praised you. Others will not bear your load, but you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom 14:10) and bear your own load alone. There your partisans will not be able to help you at all; for when we die the voices of those who praise us will be stilled ‘On that day, when God judges the secrets of men’ (Rom 2:16), the testimony of your conscience will stand either for you or against you: against you if you have your boast in others; for you if you have it in yourself, that is, if your conscience bears testimony to you that you have carried out the ministry of the Word properly and faithfully, with a concern only for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, in other words, that you have done your duty rightly, in accordance with your calling.” The words “Each mans ill have to bear his own judgement” are forceful enough to frighten us thoroughly, so that we do not yearn for vainglory.

It should also be noted that we are not dealing here with the doctrine of justification, where nothing matters except sheer grace and the forgiveness of sins, which are received by faith alone; there all works, even those that are the best and that have been done in accordance with a divine vocation, are in need of the forgiveness of sins, because we have not done them perfectly.

Luther’s Works Volume 27, Lectures on Galatians 1535, page 121