How Godly Sorrow Changes Everything

This is a week for offering apologies…you may not be aware of all of these news stories, but you can trust that I’m fair and balanced.

The Pope visited the UK, meeting with families of sex abuse at the hands of priests. he expressed “his deep sorrow and shame over what the victims and their families suffered.”

Bethany Storro’s parents apologized Friday afternoon and said they don’t know why their daughter lied about a stranger throwing acid in her face. Storro herself said she was “extremely sorry” for the pain she caused.

Reggie Bush is returning his Heisman Trophy, but he hasn’t admitted wrongdoing – no apology there.

Fidel Castro apologized for open discrimination and oppression of homosexuals under his regime.

Derek Jeter won’t apologize for lying about a pitch that hit his bat, but he acted as if it had hit him.

Terry Jones of Dove Outreach Center won’t apologize for his Burn a Quran Day.

Pete Rose has given many tearful apologies, but still will not be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Kanye West apologized to Taylor Swift, again.

Chris Brown’s mother apologized for a comment she made regarding Michael Jackson.

Have you ever had to say “I’m sorry”. Did you mean it?  I was thinking through 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, and see that godly sorrow changes everything. When we need to be sorry for our own sin and our faults, and we bring it before our Father confessionally, something in our heart changes.

As Paul writes to the Corinthians, he acknowledges that confronting sin is not a joy (2 Corinthians 7:8). It isn’t easy to point out sin in the life of someone else. For one thing, we’re always constantly aware of our own shortcomings. There isn’t a much uglier sight on earth than someone who claims to be a Christian and is always pointing out the faults of others. But there does come a time when intervention is necessary.

Sometimes that is met with a worldly kind of sorrow, a false sorrow. That complicates matters because in that case, the response is one of resentment. Or even if there is some remorse over the sin, that can be where it all stops. Just feeling bad about being caught in a sin is not godly sorrow. That is simply regret and there’s no power in that.

Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance. When we have the kind of sorrow that will help us grow, it pushes us to do better, be better. Yes, it hurts. Paul says that the Corinthians were “made sorry” for a time. We’ve all be there, haven’t we? But that happens after that time of sorrow as we contemplate our own spiritual failures?

In Nehemiah’s day, when the people heard the law of God they fell on their faces and wept and cried out to God because of their sins. When is the last time you have humbled yourself before God, confessing, weeping, expressing your own inadequacy to follow, and asking Him to change your heart? We can be too sophisticated to weep before God. If so, our heart is in trouble.

When we experience true godly sorrow, everything changes. A new outlook replaces the old one. We re-charge our worn out spirits with His grace and mercy. Notice what Paul says characterized the Corinthians after their godly sorrow took effect:

*Earnestness. They wanted to make immediate changes to do what was right. They did not mull over their options or try to bargain with God. Godly sorrow moved them beyond that kind of spiritual blindness!

*Eagerness to clear yourselves. Be  quick to stop doing what is wrong. It’s time to turn around the reputation, begin making restitution if you can, and living out loud for the gospel’s sake!

*Indignation. When godly sorrow has done it’s work, there should be a  moral outrage toward the sin which required the repentance. “There is a deep indignation against it as an evil and a bitter thing.” (Barnes) No longer are we making excuses for the presence of that sin, we begin to eliminate it.

*Alarm! We are not going to repeat this sin. Godly sorrow has given us the resolve to keep our senses attuned to danger zones. We have a holy fear and reverence for God and this does not allow us to continue in sin.

*Longing. We see where we have come from and we have a longing to live a righteous and holy life before God. This causes us to pay attention to our discipleship, spiritual formation.

*Concern. Pursuing the with-God life becomes our main concern. Turning from sin is our new habit. When we fail (and we all fail), we return, via godly sorrow, to our new vantage point. We have as a chief concern our life with the Lord.

*Readiness to see justice done. Once we get our thinking aligned with God, attention turns from ourselves to others who need to experience God’s mercy in such a way.<

Yes, everything changes through godly sorrow. How often have we avoided spending time with God confessing our sin, allowing the huge price that was paid for our forgiveness to wash over us? Consumer-driven Christianity can’t reach that part of our heart. It takes some one on one time with God. And He will bring about these changes in perspective and life-orientation.

Given our need to experience godly sorrow, I wonder along with Apostle Peter, ‘What kind of people ought you to be?

2 Peter 3:10-12 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

Godly lives begin in the rigor of godly sorrow. Everyone’s been apologizing everywhere this week … when’s the last time you spent some time apologizing to God, and seeking to know the changes that can come through genuine repentance?

Thanks for reading,

john

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