“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor. 7: 10
Boredom and sadness are two of the greatest foes, it seems, for people today. We’ll do just about anything to avoid being bored or saddened. We want to find ways to be perpetually happy, contented, and self-assured. But there are times in life when we experience disappointment, grief, and warranted sorrow.
Sorrow can actually become a means to an end according to the apostle Paul. The Holy Spirit may actually bring about a kind of sorrow which can lead to personal change in our lives. Indeed, this is the kind of sorrow (perhaps the only kind of sorrow) we want to invite into our lives. Whenever we find ourselves in such a state, we should ask ourselves what the nature of our sorrow might be. Is it the result of a “self-inflicted wound”? Is it perhaps the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, bringing to our attention something which He deeply desires to change within us? If we find ourselves discovering that it is, embrace it as an opportunity, not as rejection.
Notice two things about what Paul says. First, notice that godly sorrow may actually be resultant of the conviction of sins, revealing the true state of affairs about one’s spiritual condition: namely, that he/she is a sinner in need of redemption. This indeed is a good occurrence, for only when we see ourselves as a sinner in need of the atoning work of Christ can we accept the very atonement which covers over our sins. Whenever we respond to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in this manner, we will never regret it. We will experience no regret because we know a freedom which has replaced a bondage. This, in part, is what Martin Luther called “the happy exchange.” Second, notice that the apostle Paul, by way of parallelism, contrasts a way which leads to death and a way which leads to life. Worldly sorrow, he states, leads to death. It does not bear fruit resulting in transformational change in a person’s life. Godly sorrow, however, is designed (antecedently) to initiate within us a course of action which leads to life. This harkens back to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:15,
“I set before you life and death . . .” Clearly God has woven into the fabric of His Creation redemptive avenues to bring us from death to life, both by means of processes, practices and the work of the Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Question for the Day:
Will I let godly sorrow leave me to life and salvation?