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I’ve been reading through 2 Corinthians, and I really liked these verses:
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10 KJV)
Today’s world tries to make people feel good about themselves. “You’re a good person.” “It doesn’t matter what you do…it’s what’s in the heart that counts.” “If it feels good, do it.” “It’s your choice.” “It’s just an alternative lifestyle.” Even if these statements aren’t specifically made, they are the framework of our society. And that is dangerous. We are humanistic – man-centered – and that is a dangerous place to be. Our society operates upon the belief that man is god and what he feels is good must be just that – good.
The funny thing is that the world is a very depressing place full of depressed people. You’d think that a society bent on making itself feel good would be one of the happiest in history, but that’s obviously not the case. All the “free” people who live by their own rules – they look awfully sad an awfully large part of the time.
Yet they point fingers at Christianity for imposing its rules and putting its followers on a guilt trip when they mess up. They don’t understand.
I’m HAPPY! I’m not depressed! My life may be busy and chaotic at times, but I am at rest through it all. Oh, not all the time, but as I grow in grace through Jesus Christ, I am at rest more and more, praise God! You know what? A little godly sorrow is good for the soul – literally.
From these two verses, I glean some important truths:
- 1) God’s Word (His Law) is truth, not my words. It is by God that I must draw my standard of right and wrong.
- 2) When I fall short of God’s Law, I need to be sorry! I need to feel an anguish of sorrow in my soul because I have failed to live up to God’s standard.
- 3) I need to do something about my sorrow! I should not wallow in it, but rather let it propel me to a change of heart – and then a change of action. Because we all know that what is inside can’t help but come out, and if it doesn’t, then we’re hypocrites.
- 4) After repentance comes a relationship with God – a rest in God. And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be. The world cannot begin to comprehend the freedom that comes from living by God’s standard. With submission to an almighty God comes such wonderful freedom. How ironic that the very people who spend their lives rebelling against rules, struggling to be free, are the very people behind bars.
As a very interesting side note, my Bible cross references two verses to this passage. The first is 2 Samuel 12:13:
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
David’s response is such a perfect example of godly sorrow. David failed to meet up to God’s standard, but he had godly sorrow for his sin and acknowledged that he had transgressed. Our merciful God forgave him. I’ll include the next verse as well:
Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
I think it’s important to realize that while our God is merciful and will forgive, we have to pay the consequences of our sins. And sometimes those consequences reach to those around us. In sinning, we not only hurt ourselves but others as well.
I’ll pause a moment to go down another bunny trail. I get so peeved when people bring up the whole, “A good God wouldn’t let __ happen.” You can fill in the blank with any number of things. In David’s case, it was the death of his child. Surely a good God wouldn’t allow a child to die, would He? You know what? We live in a fallen world. It isn’t God’s will for any of these bad things to happen, but He gave us the freedom of choice. Because of man’s fallen choices, bad things happen. Don’t blame this stuff on God! Blame it on sinful mankind! We do it to ourselves! End of rant.
The other verse cross-referenced to this passage is Matthew 26:75:
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Just imagine for a minute how you would feel if you were in Peter’s shoes and realized that you had just rejected your rabbi (who also happened to be the Messiah!) despite all your protests to the contrary. Now there’s an occasion to beat yourself up if I ever heard of one. Peter truly regretted what he had done, and we see later that his godly sorrow did not lead him on a path to despair, but rather on a path of lifelong service in God’s kingdom.
So the thought I leave you with this week is…have godly sorrow when you fall short of God’s standard, and allow that sorrow to instigate a change in your life. Submit your will to God, and live a life of rest and true freedom in Him.