Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 June 19:
2 Corinthians 7:10 – “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Not all sorrow is good, and not all sorrow is bad. The difference between good grief and bad grief is whether it draws you closer to God (repentance, surrender, and subsequent assurance and joy) or further away. Consider the following comments from Ligonier Ministry’s Tabletalk Magazine –
“Theologians and preachers typically distinguish two different attitudes that might be described as ‘repentance,’ at least in some sense. The first of these attitudes is attrition. In essence, attrition consists not of sorrow for offending God but is rather sorrow related to a fear of punishment or sorrow for losing a promised blessing. This is the kind of sorrow displayed by Judas, who was repentant for what He had done only in the sense that he wished he could undo it and that he knew betraying innocent blood would put him under the divine curse (Matt. 27:3–10). There is little evidence in Judas that he was sorry for wronging Christ, and we find no awareness in him that the primary problem with his transgression was not that it would incur punishment but that it was an offense against the holy character of God. Judas was sorry for opening himself up to punishment, and instead of submitting himself to God’s mercy, he took matters into his own hands and killed himself.
Contrition is the attitude that marks true repentance. In contrition, the penitent person acknowledges that the primary problem with sin is that it is a direct offense against God Himself. Contrite people understand that they deserve punishment, and they confess that the Lord would be just to inflict punishment if He so desired. They do not despair of the hope of forgiveness; in fact, the hope of forgiveness drives them to go before the Lord and express their sorrow. Nevertheless, they recognize that God does not owe them pardon. The godly grief that Paul describes in today’s passage recognizes that a great injustice has been done against the Lord in breaking His law.
We find an excellent example of contrition in Psalm 51. David recognizes that at the most fundamental level, God is the one whom he has offended, and that the Lord would be blameless to condemn him (vv. 3–4). If we do not have that attitude when we repent, we have not shown true contrition for our sin.”
When James warns the church against worldliness, he says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:8-10) James is calling fellow believers to godly sorrow or good grief, a humble spirit that God can exalt.
There will come times in our life when God wants you to experience godly sorrow before you can return to joy, or ‘rejoice.’ Remember Romans 8:28, 29 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God will use your godly sorrow to conform you to the image of His Son, Jesus.
Godly sorrow is a joyful live-giving sorrow, not the worldly kind of grief that ends in death. If you are experiencing godly sorrow, you already have reason to rejoice, experiencing the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life, convicting you of sin and guiding you in sanctification. And you can rejoice in the confidence of God’s grace and reconciliation through Jesus.
Even Christians can get trapped in a worldly grief which wallows in guilt, which simply refuses to truly repent (be contrite) and really accept forgiveness as a gift of grace through Jesus. Sometimes they will say they know they are forgiven, but they keep looking backwards and refuse to let go of the guilt. Obviously, you can’t be an effective minister/messenger of reconciliation and an ambassador for Christ if you don’t feel and reveal genuine reconciliation through Christ. “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
– Psalm 51:17 — The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
– Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
– Luke 9:62 — Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
– Philippians 3:12-16 — Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 June 19: Where needed, replace attrition with contrition, receive forgiveness, and walk confidently and joyfully in God’s grace, proclaiming the grace you have received to others.