It takes courtesy. Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other’s feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us. The Bible says, ‘We must bear the `burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others.”Paul told Titus, “God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.” In every church and in every small group, there is always at least one “difficult” person, usually more than one. These people may have special emotional needs, deep insecurities, irritating mannerisms, or poor social skills. You might call them EGR people-“Extra Grace Required.”
God put these people in our midst for both their benefit and ours. They are an opportunity for growth and a test of fellowship: Will we love them as brothers and sisters and treat them with dignity?
In a family, acceptance isn’t based on how smart or beautiful or talented you are. It’s based on the fact that we belong to each other. We defend and protect family. A family member may be a little goofy, but she’s one of us. In the same way, the Bible says, `Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.”
The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.
One key to courtesy is to understand where people are coming from. Discover their history. When you know what they’ve been through, you will be more understanding. Instead of thinking about how far they still have to go, think about how far they have come in spite of their hurts.
Another part of courtesy is not downplaying other people’s doubts. Just because you don’t fear something doesn’t make it an invalid feeling. Real community happens when people know it is safe enough to share their doubts and fears without being judged.