We have all been sad about something. That’s when we experience sorrow. How we handle our sorrow is what Paul is talking about here. Do we let our sadness overtake us? Depending on what we are sad about, we might even need to repent. Are we sad because of how we have sinned against God? That’s the sorrow Paul is focusing on. Take a moment to think about what has caused you sadness.
Sorrow alone accomplishes nothing. Sorrow is a feeling. If it is caused by circumstances we cannot control, it only hurts us and robs us of our joy. If we are saddened by something we have done (or not done) to sin against God, there is a fix. Repentance.
Repentance describes a change of heart and how we live our life. Don’t think of it as something we “must” do to get God to love us again. Rather, it is simply turning to God and turning away from something else. Our sin. When we are true to ourselves and acknowledge our sinful behaviors, we then need to decide what to do with it. Do we keep it inside and let the sorrow eat us up or do we repent and have life?
Verse 10 says it beautifully. “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” God wants us to experience sorrow? This verse would suggest yes, for a purpose. He wants us to be led away from our sinful behaviors and turn to him for comfort, strength, support, etc.
Apparently, Paul has been in communication with the Corinthians and pointed out their sinfulness. There is a right and a wrong way to do that. You may have tried to “help” someone yourself with little or no success. When we hear the truth in love, it’s received so much better, even if it hurts. This is what Paul did to the Corinthians to get them back on track.
Paul’s reference to salvation may not have been meant to mean our eternal home either. Could it have been being saved from the painful reality our sinfulness was leading us into? God has our best interests in mind, too, and if he used Paul to open their eyes, we, too, can open our eyes to see the wisdom of this instruction.
Take some time today to reflect. Are you feeling sad or remorseful for something you have done? You may need to dig a little because sometimes we stuff our feelings inside and don’t know why we are feeling out of sorts. It can take some pondering on our part to uncover the source of our sadness.
Let’s pray … Lord, I do lament choices I have made in my life, but I have turned from them and turned toward you. I have experienced that beautiful salvation and rescue from the situation causing me harm and sorrow. Thank you for how your promises have played out in my life. Use me to help others turn to you and walk in your joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.