When a conflictual situation occurs in a small group, the only way that the tension can be relieved is if grace is given and received. In Luke 6 Jesus is talking to the twelve apostles. Jesus calls his twelve disciples together and gives them a short lecture on loving their enemies. That’s right, loving their enemies, not their friends. Then Jesus declares… “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
The only way that we can be people who do not judge and condemn those who wrong us is if we give them grace. A very simplistic definition of grace is, “Underserved love, acceptance, and forgiveness.” Let’s face it, when someone wrongs us (or we believe that they have) we instinctively judge and condemn them. That is, until we internally and externally extend grace to them. We internally extend grace to someone when, in our hearts, we choose to set aside judgment and condemnation. We externally extend grace when we offer apologies and during that apology make them aware that we are no longer at odds with them. At this point, if both parties are willing to give and receive grace, the tension is released and the group is at peace again.
Bottom line… When group members are at odds it is important that you help both parties understand that they need to internally extend grace and externally give and receive grace.
P.S. Oftentimes you’ll be told, “I just don’t feel like dealing with this right now. When I feel right about it, I’ll talk to them.” A vital fact… Right feelings come only after the two parties give and receive grace, not before.
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