Sorrow that is according to the will of God
2 Corinthians 7:8-16 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will ofGod, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 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. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. 13 For this reason we have been comforted.
And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. 15 His affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.
The Bible, the cross, the gospel, talking about sin, Jesus and God Himself, have all been determined to be offensive in our culture and society. It is the fear of causing offense which keeps many Christians from speaking and sharing what they say they believe is truth. In today’s text Paul says: For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 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. As believers, we should have that same attitude. We should not regret if we offend some with the truth of the gospel if some are caused sorrow to the point of repentance. There is no sorrow or regret for sin when sin is embraced and tolorated. If there is no sorrow for sin, there is no repentance from sin. Rather than risking offending with the gospel and the cross, if we do not share it, we make the good news of the gospel and the power of the cross to redeem from sin void for those who have not heard. 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.
Much of the church today tries to become relevant to the world, to our society and culture by offering many programs; by having entertaining worship and by sharing encouraging and uplifting messages that focus on the blessings available to those who join the church. In John 10:10 Jesus did say: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. So we should speak of and share the abundant life of Christ, but Jesus also says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37) To have the abundant life of Christ, we must first lose our own life. If we draw people to a gospel only of blessings and prosperity, if they gain all that the world has to offer, but forfeit their souls, have we truly given them the gospel of the kingdom? What is more relevant to a dying world than the promise of eternal life? When the result of a lack of sorrow for sin ends in eternal sorrow for separation from God, have we really spared them from sorrow and regret? In Matthew 6:19-33 Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also... No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” All that we need; the abundance the blessings of God and the kingdom of heaven are available, not by seeking the abundance, but by seeking His righteousness. In Psalm 37:4 the psalmist says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. It is not that we get all that we want from God. It is that He is all that we need.
If we truly want to share the blessings and the abundance of God and Christ; if we truly want people to know the love of God and the God of love, we need to tell them about His love. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God’s love is not shown in the things that He gives us. God’s love is demonstrated in that He gave us His Son to die for our sins. The abundant life now is worth nothing compared to the eternal life of those who believe. May we, like Paul, say Though I caused you sorrow I do not regret it. I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit may I never neglect to share the good news of the gospel; that the blessings and abundance of the kingdom of heaven are available to all who will seek first Your righteousness; given to the world through the cross. Amen.