Summary: This sermon deals with what can happen in our lives when we respond to sorrow in a godly way; it can bring about repentance, redemption as well as renewal.
Sorrow and heartache are common to all of us. To pass through life without feeling the hurt of disappointment, the sting of rebuke or the pain of unfulfilled desires is impossible. Sorrow is a part of life and it comes not only at the point of death, but at any sense of loss.
The church at Corinth had felt great sorrow. Paul had fiercely rebuked them in his letter of First Corinthians. Of course, he had initially felt regret over rebuking them and was burdened by their pain. However, here he rejoices as he writes his second letter that their sorrow was in tune with God.
We all feel great sorrow today. And I can identify with Paul’s initial regret over causing the Corinthians sorrow. The last thing I desire to do is cause pain, sorrow and grief in people’s lives. That be as it may, how we deal with our sorrow may be the most important measure of our Christian lives! So lets look at what can come out of your sorrow. First of all I suggest:
I. The Response of Godly Sorrow is Repentance verse 9
A. The response of worldly sorrow is resentment
Worldly sorrow stops with remorse. It recognizes regret alone. It’s sorrow for wrong doing, but regretfully leaves God out. That kind of sorrow leads to self-pity, self-disgust and resentment. So far from having a healing effect, remorse depresses and embitters. In his classical sermon on “The Sorrow of the World,” Frances Paget describes worldly sorrow as “a compound of depression, sloth and irritability which plunges a person into a lazy languor and works in him constant bitterness.”
B. The response of godly sorrow is repentance
This involves remorse and a regret over sin and shortcoming. Like when the people of God heard the reading of the law in Nehemiah’s day; they fell on their faces and wept and cried out to God for their sins. When a church comes to the place that it’s too sophisticated to weep, it’s fallen onto hard times. Repentance means more than remorse. The Biblical idea is to turn to God, see one’s conduct as God see’s it, submit to His judgment and ask Him to forgive. This points to a turn, a change in attitude, heart, mind and life. Genuine repentance is often contagious. The broken hearts of a handful of people could be used of God to bring an entire community to repentance! And I might add, a church to renewal.
II. The Result of Godly Sorrow is Redemption verse 10
A. The result of worldly sorrow is death
When you say you’re sorry just for the sake of saying you’re sorry, that has no life giving result. Children are quick to say “I’m sorry!” Sorry they got caught! Sorry said so quickly are dead words, because worldly sorrow results in death. It brings death to relationships, death to usefulness and death to hope that makes life worth living. Have you ever been sorry that you said, “I’m sorry?”
B. The result of godly sorrow is redemption verse 10b
When there’s grief that’s God willed there will be life. When there’s godly sorrow that experiences the work of grace there will be salvation. I’ll never forget my youngest daughter’s conversion experience at the age of eleven. Having talked with her about her sinfulness at age nine and ten, we were discussing the issue of sin on a Saturday evening and read the account of Achan’s sin when all of a sudden tears started flowing down her young cheeks. She was sorry that she had sinned against God and prayed to receive forgiveness and eternal life that night. Godly sorrow results in that kind of redemption, deliverance and healing. For in godly sorrow there’s a healing power. The root meaning of salvation is healing from sickness and pain, deliverance from danger and ultimately freedom from and forgiveness of sin.
The classic comparison of the result of worldly and godly sorrow is found in the grief of Judas and Peter. Judas Iscariot’s sorrow can be captured in the words, “I have betrayed innocent blood,” and it brought death. Peter who wept bitterly may have taken a more painful route and met Jesus face to face. His sorrow worked redemption and restored his relationship with the Savior and usefulness in His Kingdom’s work.
III. The Reason for Godly Sorrow is Renewal verse 11
A. The reason for sorrow is not sorrow itself
Sorrow is not an end in itself. Paul didn’t make them feel guilty just for the sake of making them feel bad. Sorrow isn’t to be a burden bearer nor a guilt giver. So many people feel bad enough about themselves already. Sorrow, grief or guilt is not to be an end in itself, rather a means to an end.