From the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, 10” For Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10, NKJV). The NIV states the verse this way. 10” Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The ESV® Bible uses the word Godly grief instead of Godly sorrow, but regardless of which word one chooses to use, the message remains the same.
The grief or sorrow that comes from God will be confirmed by repentance. In other words, it is more than regret and shame caused by having lost God’s approval, but the determination to reverse one’s conduct and live for God. Worldly grief, or sorrow, comes from the world, and losing the world’s approval, for far too many, leads misbelievers to regain that approval by any means possible. Still, it ultimately leads to eternal death.
This wisdom from Scripture is something we all must remind ourselves of throughout the day. We disrespect God when we allow ourselves to be more concerned with what others think about something we do or say than what God thinks about what we do and say. We cannot justify deliberate corrupt speech or behavior before God. He, God, our Creator, sees what is in the very depths of our heart – nothing can be hidden.
What is Godly sorrow? It’s seeing how what we have done or said negatively affects God. After all, our behavior before God directly impacts our relationship with Him. Certainly out of God’s incredible Love, and not from any sense of malice, God must reach a point at which He says, “Enough. If you want to continue in your prideful and defiant state and reject Me, then I’ll accommodate you.” As followers of Christ Jesus, we need to work our hardest to sustain our relationship with God continually. If we have a good relationship with God, as Scripture says, it brings repentance. James, the Apostle, and brother of Christ Jesus, wrote, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8, NKJV). That is only possible through repentance. The stronger our love for God becomes, the more desperate we will become to repent. Christ Jesus, Himself tells us to repent; the kingdom of God is at hand.
Repentance is a choice. It has to be a choice because repent means changing one’s mind, which is no simple task. Still, with unwavering determination and being powered by the Holy Spirit, changing one’s mind can be accomplished. If one decides not to repent genuinely, Spiritual truths are withheld by God because they would be incomprehensible to an unbeliever’s heart. The humble and repentant Believer is rewarded with greater insight. I don’t mean to imply God punishes a misbeliever’s doubts because even Believers can have, under certain circumstances, doubts. However, there is a big difference between someone with legitimate doubts and someone who is merely defiant toward God or God’s Word.
Unless one is a misbeliever, I ask, “How can anyone experience all of God’s Creation and deliberately cause sorrow for God?” James wrote, “…God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, NKJV). If one truly loves God with all their heart, soul, and mind, repentance will occur and continue to occur. We do not repent to get God’s favor(s). We repent because we love Him, and no one must ever deliberately bring sorrow to one they claim to love –Amen.