2 Corinthians 7:10 came up in Bible Study.
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."
"I don't get it." whispered the person beside me.
I plunged confidently into an explanation. After all, I understood what all the words meant. Plus, our Bible study guide even gave Peter's sorrow (Matthew 26:75) as an example of godly sorrow, Judas' sorrow (Matthew 27:3) as an example of worldly sorrow...
"I still don't get it!"
I looked back sheepishly. "Actually, I don't either."
What made Judas' sorrow different from Peter's sorrow? What exactly differentiates godly sorrow from worldly sorrow?
I think we've all experienced worldly sorrow. Did something cruel, hurtful, selfish, in a moment when we were ruled by our emotions. Felt a wave of remorse and self-reproach when we realize what we've done: I can't believe I did/said that.
How could I have done that?
And soon, I can't forgive myself!
The sorrow itself is not what's wrong--we ought to sorrow for our sin.
But worldly sorrow focuses on ourselves. I thought back to all those times I'd experienced that dirty, can't-forgive-myself type of remorse--and the truth was, the main reason why it had felt so bad was my pride. Yes, of course to some extent it was the fact that someone had been hurt because of what I had done, and I was sorry about that. But mainly, I was horrified that the nice, presentable Me I believed I had been all along, had done that.
It was all because I'd made the mistake of doing this. If I hadn't, everything would still be fine, I would still be that Nice Person. And because of that, I felt I couldn't forgive myself. I had ruined my self-created identity/image as a Nice Person, for good. That thought was devastating, because there was no hope, no way to press the Undo button, no way to ever be that Nice Person I had once been, again. I couldn't respect and love myself the way I used to anymore. Maybe we find it easier to gloss over the petty everyday sins, because everyone else does them too; and perhaps, only wake up when our sin actually stuns us, only then see that we're irrevocably corrupted.
I think that when Judas realized the full weight of what he had done--murdered an innocent man (an exceptionally good and blameless one at that, as even those who didn't believe He was the Christ admitted) for the sordid reason of thirty pieces of silver--he felt the same way.
Overwhelmed by horror at himself. Unable to cope with the revelation that he was hopelessly and irrevocably a sinner. I can't forgive myself.
And that was the main difference that I saw between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. You mourn, too, for the hurt you have caused that can't be undone. But you're not devastated by the I-Can-Never-Be-A-Nice-Person-Again thunderbolt--because you know that you were never a nice person in the first place. Because that was why God had to send Jesus. That was why we could never be reconciled to God on our own. That is why we keep sinning.
With this humility comes hope. Not in yourself. In God's ability to forgive you when you repent, because Christ made it possible. In Christ's ability to change you, to make you more and more like Him--the Perfect Person.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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