Sorrow is an emotion that is often avoided at all costs. People, myself included, use all sorts of means to escape from pain and sorrow. A busy schedule, distractions, comparisons, excuses. Especially within the context of the American church, I've noticed that many times sorrow, the gravity and weight of sin, and the insufferable pain we have inflicted on God, others, and ourselves is simply brushed under the carpet.
In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul is talking about a letter that he wrote to the Corinthians that produced godly grief which led to repentance. In verses 9-11, in response to the letter he sent, Paul says "As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter."
When godly sorrow and grief is neglected, is it possible that true, authentic repentance is also neglected? Grief that comes from God is characterized by repentance. When sin that defies God (i.e. all sin) is discarded as "normal," "not that bad," or "justified," is it possible that our minds and hearts become desensitized to the weight of sin, the necessity of repentance, and that we are missing out on the incredible qualities that godly sorrow produces?
It is only when we acknowledge our own complete depravity, detestable sin nature, and see the depths of our own despair that we can fully understand the cross and its beauty. In James 1:14, after making clear that God does not tempt us, James draws attention to the source of temptation. "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." It's our own desires that lead to our death. It's filth within us, not the things around us, that makes us the scum that we are by nature. When we are able to acknowledge that, we are able to see all the more clearly the beauty of Jesus Christ. We are able to see beauty of repentance, redemption, the depths of God's love, and the restoration that the truth of the Gospel brings. When we see just how unmerited the favor we've received from God is, we can praise Him all the more of loving us while we were enslaved in sin. We are able to filled with inexpressible, unexplainable love for God and his people. We are able to thrive and live the lives that God designed us to live.
I want to leave this blog with one of my favorite passages and I think that it ties in perfectly with this theme. Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Let us keep looking unto our beautiful Savior and live a life that is worthy of the call we have received.
Thank you so much for reading and feel free to comment your opinions and thoughts. (: