Second Corinthians 7 talks about godly sorrow versus worldly sorrow, but what does this really mean? What does godly sorrow look like? Second Corinthians 7 says:

“even if I cause you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it — I see that my letter hurt you, space but only for a little while — yet now I am happy, not because you are made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. Before you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced and you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.” — second Corinthians 7: 8-11

The following is just a personal reflection on the above passage, and its implications for our lives today. When the Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthians he commended them to a godly sorrow, a kind of sorrow that produced life. This kind of sorrow produced a whole litany of changed attitude for this particular person. Versus worldly sorrow which produces death in the lives of those who submit to such antics. My question is why? I mean why is there such a disparity between the worldly sorrow and godly sorrow? The answer is rather obvious, I think, but maybe it’s so obvious that we simply overlook it when it comes to day-to-day life and living out the Gospel.

Worldly sorrow produces death because apparently it is informed and motivated by a love of self, and a desire to continue to promote oneself in the face of the circumstances of life which produced the sorrow in the first place. In other words, worldly sorrow is only sorrowful in so far as it was confronted with reality. And the reality is, is that “my way” is wrong, and God’s way is right. But the problem continues to be that the worldly one is so consumed by self that even when confronted with reality all they can do is tend to their own concerns and wounds. Bottom line, worldly sorrow destroys because it starts with self and it ends with self.

Contrarily, godly sorrow produces life. It seems to me godly sorrow fundamentally differs from worldly sorrow at its starting point. What I mean is, is that godly sorrow assumes a heart condition that has already been changed or oriented towards Christ. Second Corinthians 3 makes clear that the believer, or Christian, has received a new heart; a heart that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The implication being that the believer, when confronted with reality, will exemplify a sorrow that is in line with God’s way. God’s way is life because He is life. In other words the believer, like David in the Old Testament (Psalm 51), will readily admit when he or she is wrong; and will throw themselves at the mercy of the Lord. This obviously is life producing because it causes us to turn from self once again, and turn to life — or better: to Christ.

Hopefully you have been experiencing godly sorrow. All to often we believers struggle with worldly sorrow which seems odd to me. Doesn’t it seem by definition that Christians should only experience godly sorrow? Or maybe, even as Christians, we teeter totter between living in the flesh and the spirit. We fluctuate between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of the Son of his love, we have characteristics that are still fleshly. Were a hybrid of sorts, being citizens of heaven, while living in old bodies in a destroyed kingdom — in a carcass of a world that is passing away. But praise the Lord there is hope! Even though we mess up in these old bodies, we have hearts oriented and motivated by the love of Christ. Our sorrow has been reversed and in fact what destroys the world produces life in the Christian.

Anyway just thinking out loud about this, any feedback would be appreciated . . . in Christ!

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