Pain. The one thing we avoid most in life. Whether, it is emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual, no one likes it and no one goes looking for it. But Paul tells us here in II Corinthians seven that pain and sorrow have a restorative purpose in our lives. Let’s take a look at what he’s talking about.
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
~II Corinthians 7:9-10
Just as the gardener’s clippers inflict pain and loss to the tree being pruned, causing sap to seep out of the new wound, so also the Lord’s discipline in us can be painful and cause grief and sorrow to pour from our spirit. But this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a healthy thing. For Paul tells us the godly grief or sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation and restoration. This is the goal of God’s pruning or discipline in our life--that we would repent and turn away from our sins. But if we don’t experience the pain that leads to godly sorrow, we won’t see the error of our way, and therefore, will continue in sin.
What is godly grief? How does it differ from worldly sorrow? This is an important distinction, because one leads to life while the other produces death. So we need to know the difference between them!
Worldly grief is sorrow that we got caught, and godly sorrow is brokenness because we grieved God’s heart. Worldly grief thinks of how it might redo things next time so as not to receive the consequences. But godly sorrow sees sin for what it is, seeks repentance, and turns away from that which God says is wrong. One strives harder to do things smarter while the other is utterly broken by the wrongs committed.
Now, the question for us is, which type do we generally have when God points out sin in our lives?
As we seek unity and deeper fellowship with God, God will point out more and more areas of sin in our lives to purify us. He may use people like our parents, pastor, mentor, or close friend or He may work through the Holy Spirit in our hearts. But either way, He will bring conviction and discipline to the areas of our lives that are less than perfect; it’s all part of the “being transformed into His image” process that we are striving after. So the question is, how will we respond to this purification? Will we humbly submit and allow the godly sorrow to work repentance and salvation in our lives? I hope so, for this response leads to life.
Therefore, I charge you to be broken by the things that break God’s heart and to be appalled at the awfulness of sin so that you may experience godly sorrow. For this is the straight and narrow way, the path of righteousness, and the way that leads to life.
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