“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10, ESV).
There is a place for sorrow over our sins. However, this verse lays out an extremely vital distinction between the right kind of sorrow and the wrong kind of sorrow.
Consider this example from your own intimate relationships:
When someone close to your heart has hurt you in a significant way, do you want them to be sorry that they upset you? Of course you do. When he or she voices true, heartfelt remorse about having caused you pain, that sincere expression of care brings healing to the wound. This is a good way to understand the concept of “godly grief” that Holy Spirit is highlighting here.
Godly grief means that we are genuinely sorry that we caused damage to our close fellowship with God through our actions. When we express our pain over having grieved Him, it brings healing to our communion with Him.
Reflecting on the example of our own interpersonal relationships, we will realize that godly grief has a temporary role to play. Once we have forgiven our repentant loved one from the heart, we allow God to wipe away the offense as if it never happened. Completed reconciliation means that the moment for godly sorrow has passed. You wouldn’t want that person that you so cherish bowed down under never-ending guilt and anguish over having hurt you. You want that individual to forgive him or herself just as you have forgiven them. Full healing means that all of the pain has been washed away from both of you.
This is where we can understand the concept of “worldly grief” better. Worldly grief would be that never-ending sorrow, that lack of completed reconciliation and healing. This is not what Daddy God wants for us. As soon as we have repented genuinely of our transgressions, He longs to wash over us with His comprehensive forgiveness, cleansing, and redemption. He can’t stand for any separation to remain between us and Him! He bids us to come quickly into His waiting, open arms.
His heart towards any child of His in their failings is beautifully conveyed in 2 Corinthians 2:7-8:
“So you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (ESV).
Do you see? Yes, there is place for godly sorrow over our wrongdoing. But let this sorrow drive us immediately into Daddy’s embrace. Let it urge us to receive His absolute, unconditional forgiveness, without causing Him the further grief of distance from us. Jesus’ blood instantly purifies us through and through. Our intimacy with His heart is fully restored. He remembers our sins no more. As a result, the wholehearted repentance that godly sorrow produces leaves no regret.
Don’t give room in your life to excessive sorrow over your failings. Daddy God forgives and comforts you, even right now. Looking into your eyes, He passionately reaffirms His everlasting love for you. Let Him hold you close and wash the past completely away…
Does this speak to your heart? Is there some sorrow that’s been hanging around and overdue for His washing and cleansing? Don’t rush past this moment. Let Him minister His reconciliation to you even now…
(And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights, experiences, musings, or reflections in the comments!)