Two Sorrows

Gary Bird
I Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

I imagine that there isn’t a Christian anywhere in the world that doesn’t sorrow over the direction our world is heading in. There is unnecessary pain, suffering, and sin abounds. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Truth is decried as false and falsehoods are labeled as truth. Morality and justice are being replaced with situational ethics and mob rule.

Yet, we continue down the same track, barreling full steam ahead. It seems there is little impact or change back towards sanity and peace. We could look to the world and tell ourselves they are to blame. However, the world is only doing what the world always does, which is sin. We cannot expect a transformation in the world from the world. We could look inwardly, but as we addressed above, I can’t imagine there is a Christian anywhere that doesn’t see what’s going on and doesn’t have some kind of remorse.

This leaves us to ask ourselves, “What ‘kind’ of remorse do we have?” Paul reminds the church that there are two kinds of sorrow. There is godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. What’s the difference between the two? One sorrow leads to repentance and the other leads to death. These types of sorrow couldn’t be more different from each other. In the Bible, we have two examples of sorrow and they both lead to radically different outcomes. The outcomes are different because they come from two different kinds of sorrow.

The first sorrow we see is in Nehemiah. Nehemiah received a report that his home city is in ruins. The walls are torn down, people are hopeless, and the situation looks impossible. To further complicate matters, Nehemiah had a comfortable job, great benefits, and no personal reason to act. Yet, the sorrow that overcame him was of a godly sort. It brought him to his knees. He began to pray to God for forgiveness and for help to restore his city. The end result of this godly sorrow was a building project that lasted under two months and produced a brand new wall to protect his people.

The second example we find is in the New Testament. There was a young man with power and money who wanted to follow Christ. This young man thought he was sinless, so Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow Him. The Bible says this young man went away sorrowful. If this young man didn’t come to the realization that he was a sinner and he needed a Savior, it would lead to his eventual eternal death.

When we contrast these two stories, we are able to see Paul’s teaching so much clearer. It is true that godly sorrow leads to repentance. It leads to a change. It leads to us looking at ourselves as the problem and asking, “What can I do to change things and improve?”

On the other hand, we see that worldly sorrow leads to a selfish outlook asking, “What will this cost me?” The worldly sorrow produces no changes because we think it’s someone else's fault to begin with. We are sorry that we find ourselves in the situation, but we will not change anything. Is there sorrow among Christians for the condition of the world? Without a doubt! But, is there a godly sorrow that leads to repentance and change? If not, now is the time to ask God to change your heart and stop casting blame on others. Look to the Lord for what you can change about yourself that would make an impact in others.

Gary Bird

Gary and his family are core members of our church. He assists with multiple minsitries. He and his wife Jessica have four children.

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