Godly Sorrow; October 12, 2018

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

This verse gets a little confusing in Japanese, because the Japanese term for “repentance” is “regret and redo.” That makes saying “no regret” and “repentance” in the same sentence paradoxical. The NIV fixes that with the simple word, “leaves.” We do have to regret what we’ve done in order to repent in truth, but once we’ve repented, there’s no regret left. With that potential misunderstanding out of the way, this verse expresses a very important truth. Some people try to go through life with no sorrow at all, but that’s a flat impossibility. I quote it very frequently, but Jesus’ words in John 16:33 are certainly true: “In this world you will have trouble.” The point is not to try to get out of all trouble, but rather to get through it, and gain from that very trouble the blessings God has planned. This past Sunday I spoke on the difference between trials and temptations, referencing what the Lord had said to me in my devotions on September 28th. We are certainly to flee temptations, but trials grow us and train us and ultimately strengthen and bless us. That’s why God allows them, and sometimes expressly plans them, I feel. That is worlds different from what the devil tries to do to us through the world. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10) which is why Paul says very accurately, “Worldly sorrow brings death.” The point is to lift our eyes from our circumstances and fix them on God who loves us enough to send His Son to die for us. If we will do that, we will be able to release our circumstances to Him and allow Him to turn them around for our good. (Romans 8:28) That is true even when our own sin got us into those circumstances in the first place! That’s where “repentance that leads to salvation” comes in.

This is something I have experienced in my own life, certainly, and as a pastor I encounter it in the lives of others frequently. I was texted in the night last night by someone who is seeing no meaning to their life at this point, when the truth is, their biggest problem is that they have regretted but not repented, and so are not walking in submission to God right now. There are others involved in their current situation, and repentance is called for in them as well, but until one or more parties to the problem “let go of the wheel” and let God be in control, the situation isn’t going to straighten out. All I can do is keep praying for them and keep speaking the truth in love, asking God to give them ears to hear and receive His truth so that they may be set free from this trap of the enemy. I’ve been there, so I must be careful not to come across as holier-than-thou, but I also must not fail to speak the truth they need to hear.

Father, once again I am very aware of my own lack of wisdom. I ask Your grace and mercy for the parties involved, and I ask Your wisdom and anointing for me, that I may be Your agent to defeat the works of the enemy in this situation, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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