Jump Start # 1955
2 Corinthians 7:10 “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
“I’m sorry.” That seems to be in vogue these days. It’s good to recognize wrong and to be sorry for it. But, it seems too often, a commentator, comedian, politician or sports figure can say anything that they want, no matter how thoughtless, cruel or offensive it is, and then when they are called on the carpet for what they said, out comes, “I’m sorry.” Often the damage has been done. Would they have apologized had they not received such a backlash from the public? Are they truly sorry or only sorry that they got in trouble for what they said?
Saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t fix all things. It doesn’t repair broken trusts. Confidence in a marriage, the bond of friendship, the relationship between parents and their children can be shattered by poor decisions, careless words and actions without thinking. Just saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t magically restore and repair these strained relationships. One wonders why a person said what they said in the first place. And we are not just talking about what people say, but what they tweet, put on Facebook or text.
Saying, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t keep the consequences of wrong and sinful choices from coming. A kid, on a dare, chooses to shoplift a dvd from a store. He’s caught. Parents are called. The police are called. He’s in big trouble now. He says, “I’m sorry,” but there are consequences that he will have to face. A college student chooses to plagiarize. It’s a long paper. The professor won’t catch it. There are too many papers to read. It is found. And now there are consequences. The student says, “I’m sorry,” but that may not stop all the punishment he’s about to face. A wife finds out that her husband is having an affair. She confronts him. He says, “I’m sorry.” The marriage may be over. He’ll have to move out. How will he tell his parents? What happens when the church finds out? “I’m sorry,” doesn’t stop consequences.
Hiding our sins, like Adam and Eve hid from God, is a common human response. This is our default mode. We keep things hidden and hope that no one finds out. Cover-up. Cover our tracks. Make excuses. Denial. Dodge the questions. We’re pretty good at this stuff. When caught, we are quick to point fingers. It’s been a long day. I’m under a lot of pressure and stress. I haven’t been myself lately. But all of this smoke to cover what we really know is going on, never fools God. The Lord is not deceived. We can hide things from others. We can after awhile, start believing our own lies, but the Lord knew all along.
This is where our verse comes in. Godly sorrow is different than sorrow of the world. A person can be sorry for many reasons. He can be sorry that he got caught. He can be sorry that he lost his job or is kicked out of the house. He can be sorry that he is in jail. None of this points a finger back to his heart. Is he sorry that he even did or said what he did? Caught or not, is he sorry? Consequences or not, is he sorry?
Godly sorrow is based upon God. It’s not based upon what I did to others or the punishment I now receive because of my choices. One is sorry that he has shamed God. He is sorry that he has disappointed God. He is sorry that he did not bring glory and honor to God. This sorrow, is based upon the will of God. It’s Biblically based. It doesn’t come from the outcry of the public. It’s not the result of being suspended by the owner of the company. It comes from heart that wants to please God. When he has not, he is sorry, very sorry.
This godly sorrow leads to repentance. It leads to changes. Thought is given as to how I got myself into that situation. Thought is given to what should I have done differently. Prayers are sent Heavenward. Pleas for God’s mercy are beseeched. Lessons have been learned. Changes will take place. A heart is drawn even closer to the God of love and mercy. A renewed desire to walk closer to the Lord takes place.
This is seen in the story of the prodigal. Life got so desperate for that rebellious kid that he desired what the pigs were eating. He came to his senses. Godly sorrow. He decided to go home and apologize. Repentance. He said, “…I have sinned against Heaven and in your sight.” No excuses. No fingers pointing to anyone else. A broken heart that wants to be loved and mended by God. His father accepted him. There was a celebration. A feast. Music and dancing were heard coming from the house. But what about the next day? The party was over. The food was eaten. Now what? The obnoxious brother was still obnoxious. The father wasn’t changing any of the rules to keep the prodigal home. What was expected of the prodigal didn’t change. One thing changed. The heart of the prodigal. He was different. He had repented. He saw things differently now. He was a new person.
Had he come home with a “I’m sorry,” but no change in his heart, it would only be a matter of time until he hit the road again. What changed was his view of things. What changed was his view of self. Godly sorrow leads one to God.
In a perfect world, we would never do anything wrong. The world is not perfect and neither are we. We sin. Hiding the fact, blaming others, and waiting for someone to demand an apology, is what the world does. Their sorrow leads to death. The death is the death of their heart and soul. Judas seemed to be sorry that he betrayed Jesus. He returned the money. His sorrow did not lead him closer to God. He took his life. Sorrow of the world leads to death—physically, emotionally and especially spiritually.
It’s great to recognize that you have done wrong. It’s important to understand that others have been hurt by you. Now, when you say, “I’m sorry,” what are you doing with that? Are you making changes? Are you better because of this? Are you closer to God? Are you showing that you mean what you say? Or, is this just a quick band aid to cover up a deeper problem? Is this being said, only to keep the job, the marriage, and to hold off any embarrassment or consequences that may come your way?
I’m sorry—are you? What are you going to do with that now?
Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow—they can say the exact same words, “I’m sorry.” But the intent, purpose and aftermath is totally different. One is driven by the need to be right with God, the other is driven by the fact that one wants to save face. One is more concerned about God than anything else. The other is concerned about self more than anything else.
I’m sorry…give that some thought!