Sunday, July 11, 2010

Godly Grief

2 Corinthians 7:9 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. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

9 νῦν χαίρω, οὐχ ὅτι ἐλυπήθητε ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι ἐλυπήθητε εἰς μετάνοιαν· ἐλυπήθητε γὰρ κατὰ θεόν, ἵνα ἐν μηδενὶ ζημιωθῆτε ἐξ ἡμῶν. 10  ἡ γὰρ κατὰ θεὸν λύπη μετάνοιαν εἰς σωτηρίαν ἀμεταμέλητον ἐργάζεται· ἡ δὲ τοῦ κόσμου λύπη θάνατον κατεργάζεται.

I'm not sure why, but I don't get a ton out of 2 Corinthians when I go through it.  However, this short passage is one of the most important passages in my life, so I guess it kind of balances out.  I think that this passage tells us much about effective Christian discipleship as well as what the Christian life should look like.

First we see how Paul addressed the Corinthians.  He knows that he caused them pain.  He does not rejoice because of their pain, ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι ἐλυπήθητε εἰς μετάνοιαν.  What I get out of this is that there is a time when our message must cause a little pain.  My stepdad just had a hip replaced. It hurts.  But it will ultimately hurt a lot less than his bad hip did.  In the same way, we need to preach a tough message sometimes.  In the same way, we need to hear a tough message sometimes too.  What does this buy us?

It brings us to godly grief.  Paul contrasts τοῦ κόσμου λύπη with ἡ γὰρ κατὰ θεὸν λύπη (it's hard to pick apart the phrase for godly grief from Greek to English).  Worldly grief leads to death.  Godly grief leads to repentance, which leads to life.

My daughter provided a good example of worldly grief this morning.  She had a terrible attitude and eventually called her mother an "idiot," which is something that leads to a spanking in our house.  Then she hit me after I spanked her, which led to another spanking.  We went through this about four times total, which was not much fun for either of us.

What was interesting is that she yelled "Sorry!" when she realized that each infraction was leading to another spanking.  I later explained to her that if she was truly sorry then she would stop doing it.  She had worldly grief in that she wanted to avoid the consequence of her actions, but she wanted to keep doing it.

Frankly, that's where most of us are most of the time, aren't we?  We hate the consequences, but we don't mind the intrinsic sinfulness of some action.  Godly grief is getting to the point where we realize how our sin offends a holy God.  I believe that we get to that place as a result of the Spirit's work in us.  Also, I can tell you from experience that it is quite dangerous to pray for godly grief because it is terrible to experience.  Yet it is something we must go through if we are to walk with Christ.

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