2 Corinthians 7
2 Cor 7:8-10 I am not sorry I sent that severe letter to you… Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have… the kind of sorrow God wants you to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
Wow, this is our prayer and desire for these new missionaries we are working with. That when we have to say the hard things, that it would lead to godly repentance. It may be painful in the moment, but God says that His sorrow should / will produce earnestness, concern to clear their name, indignation and alarm at things that aren’t consistent with godliness, and a zeal and readiness to eliminate those things from our lives! (2 Cor 7:11) There is no regret for that kind of sorrow.
That is what sorrow should produce. Which leads to the question, “What if what we say does not produce that? What if the rebuke doesn’t produce godly sorrow, and instead, there is resistance, defensiveness, lack of humility, and no recognition of the need for repentance? What does that mean? Was the rebuke wrong? Not necessarily. I think that’s why Paul clarifies the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Paul says, “worldly sorrow lacks repentance.”
What brings repentance? Humility! Willingness to see our sin. Willingness to listen to the loving rebuke of God’s messengers.
That reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples in Luke 22:26-27. “Among you it will be / must be different! Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leaders should be like a servant. … I am among you as one who serves. Then Luke describes how Jesus exemplified that. Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
- When someone shares a rebuke with me, I want it to produce godly sorrow. I choose to accept the words as from God, and I endeavor to receive it with a readiness to eliminate anything not consistent with godliness in my life.
- As God leads me to confront things in other peoples lives, I choose to believe God desires to use it to produce godly sorrow and repentance in their lives. I choose to trust the process and believe in the Holy Spirit to do His work.