The Benefits of Repentance and Joy
2 Corinthians 7:8–10 - “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth mentioned the reality of problems that occur in relationships and ministry. Likewise, when we encounter our own failings and sins, it is a painful experience. We see the disconnect between who God meant us to be and who we are in reality, and it is a large gap. Sad, remorseful feelings are part of godly sorrow and are the proper result of knowing our failure (as opposed to crippling guilt or anger at the truth about who we are). The Christians in Corinth were feeling godly sorrow as they listened to Paul’s letter and they realized how far they had fallen.
However, there is a second emotional experience in this situation as well, and it is joy. Joy comes when we understand that we are not lost in our sin and failures, but that God loves us and will help us. We are not alone, condemned and hopeless. Joy replaces the remorse as we realize the big picture and follow him. We become grateful. We may have made some bad choices in our life: a relational mistake, an impulsive decision, a destructive habit. We can celebrate because, just as the early Christians understood the words that had been made known to them, we can understand God’s Word as well, and can find hope and direction in him.
This devotional is drawn from Boundaries in Dating, by John Townsend and Henry Cloud.