I remember when Laurie brought up her intentions to have an affair. She was conflicted about it but thought it was the best thing to do. It was obviously a grave issue for Laurie and the group. There was a lot of emotion and empathy for her situation. People also spent time trying to help her understand her own issues, motives, and influences regarding this very destructive decision.
Finally one man said, “Laurie, I really care about you a lot, but I want to be clear with you that I don’t think you should do this. It’s wrong, and it will hurt a lot of people.” It sort of shocked her, and she felt somewhat offended, as if he had no right to say this. Weeks later, however, Laurie told him, “I have been thinking about this whole thing, and I want to thank you for what you said. It’s helped clear my mind, and I’m going a different direction now.”
I remember learning from that group experience that insight and truth are very, very valuable. I also remember learning that insight alone is not enough; the result is paralysis of analysis, where change doesn’t happen. Rather, the truth we learn and receive in relationships is designed to be used, applied, and lived out so that we may be transformed. This principle is stated no better than in James’s words:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22–25).
All group members are responsible to take the stance that the truth is to be both learned and used, thereby moving down that famous eighteen inches between head and heart.
Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2010). Making small groups work: what every small group leader needs to know. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.