“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” Those are the words of Rick Warren, but they show a lot of wisdom. Loving Jesus Christ leads us to positions where we will not agree with everything other people do. I know this isn’t a politically correct thing to say, but sometimes my friends are wrong in what they believe or do. My reaction is to love them anyway, while helping to show them the right way. I guess this concept reciprocates, because my close friends see me do bad things, and show me God’s love while helping me recognize my sin.
I know. I used the “s” word that’s taboo among some Christians today, let alone a world that’s accepting of everyone except for those who would label any behavior as sinful. There is a problem with accepting or tolerating anything that people say or do. When people feel justified in their sin, they don’t seek God. When people are not confronted with God’s truth, they are unlikely to repent in godly sorrow. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)
Paul had written some harsh things to the Corinthian Church previously. When he wrote them, he caused anguish and sorrow among the Church. He knew that two things could happen when he wrote that letter: 1) people would recognize the error of their ways and repent; or 2) people would dig their feet in stubbornly and persist in their sin claiming that Paul hated them. As he wrote this passage, he was rejoicing that those in Corinth had followed the first option. Paul rebuked their sin and that led to godly sorrow and repentance. Paul mentioned that it led to salvation as well. I think he means this in two ways: 1) salvation in the sense that they are no longer caught up in their sin and have thus been saved from that sin; 2) salvation in the sense that non-believers saw their response and came to follow Jesus as they admired their sincerity. That godly sorrow produced a new outpouring of faith and a desire to live the right way. The other side of the coin, worldly sorrow, leads to destruction. There is not hope in worldly sorrow. There is no promise of grace. There is only recrimination and guilt.
In today’s world, we don’t understand godly sorrow. We have become so secular minded that all we know is worldly sorrow. When someone points out sin in our lives, or when we point it out in others, we get our hackles up and attack the “judgmental” person who would seek to burden us with guilt over our behavioral choices. As followers of Christ we need to recognize that when our sins are pointed out, rather than getting defensive, we need to examine ourselves and God’s word. We need to feel that godly sorrow because we’re wrong. We need to confess it before God, repent, and then experience His glorious grace. At the same time, when we point out sins of individuals or society, we need to do so in such a way that those involved recognize our love for them and can sense God’s love and grace even in the midst of their sins. We don’t want to promote worldly sorrow full of guilt; we want to produce godly sorrow that leads to repentance and an experience with God’s grace.
Lord, correct me when I’m wrong and let me experience godly sorrow. Let me always show Your love and grace to others when I correct them and let them experience godly sorrow and repentance.