Which Kind of Sorrow?
25 July 2015
Reading: 2 Corinthians 7; Psalm 21
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT)
In his previous letter, Paul had confronted the Corinthian church with their failure to deal with sin in the church family. Now, after hearing of their positive response to his words of correction, he said that it had been painful for him to write things that made them sad or sorrowful. But Paul reminded them that if his words made them sorrowful, and if their sorrow prompted them to turn from sin and think right and do right, it was worth it – for them and for him.
Paul said that there are two kinds of being sorry for doing wrong. There’s a God-kind of being sorry that leads us to confess and turn from our sin, and a worldly kind of being sorry that can produce defensiveness and self-justification, and drive us even further from intimacy with God. Worldly sorrow can lead to depression, discouragement, and hopelessness. Either way, worldly sorrow leads to spiritual death.
Sometimes God confronts me with my sin by introducing me to someone who has conquered that particular sin. Sometimes God allows me to see at least a partial consequence of my sin. Sometimes God confronts me through another Christ-follower who cares enough to speak up. Sometimes God confronts me directly by his Word and his Spirit. In any case, when I get beyond making excuses for my sin, acknowledging my sin makes me sad – sorrowful.
At that point I have to choose whether my sorrow over my sin will lead to guilt, shame, and depression (remorse), or whether it will lead me to change my thinking and my actions (repentance). I agree with Paul, if it prompts life-change, it’s worth it. Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow – it’s my choice!
Father, Thank you for caring enough to confront. May my friends and I always choose the path of Godly sorrow leading to life-change, never worldly sorrow leading to spiritual death. We believe in the power of Christ to change our thoughts and our actions. May we always choose repentance and faith, never remorse and regret. Please, Father, never give up on us. We love you, we love your ways. Amen.