I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance… (2 Cor 7:9a)
“Your not really sorry, just sorry you got caught.” I Was 19 and these word rang loud in my ears. At the time I didn’t know for certain if what was said to me was true or not.
She was an older woman, who loved me and wanted what was best for me, at least that’s what I thought. On that particular day she sat me down and shared her concern that I didn’t show any real remorse for my sin. She wondered if I truly understood the gravity of my sinfulness before God and the consequences I would face because of my sin. I told her I understood. I understood that what I had done went against God’s word, against what was holy. I understood my sinfulness. She looked me in the eyes and said “Sharon I do not see a sorrow that brings repentance.”
In the years since then I have often thought of that conversation and wondered exactly what she was looking for that would have convinced her of my sorrow. Should I have cried? Wailed? Should there have been tearing of clothes, wearing sackcloth and ashes? I really am not sure, but maybe a few tears would have been nice.
The trouble is, tears just don’t come easily for me. And I have even tried to cry when I think maybe I should, but I can’t. Oh trust me I can cry, but I can not make myself, nor do my tears seem to come when I think they should.
So then, how does a person know for certain if they are sorrowful over their sin? If they’ve truly repented? We only need to look as far as God’s word for the answer. It’s all about the heart. A changed life shows if a person has truly repented. Anyone can “look” sorrowful, many can manufacture tears, but it doesn’t mean they are sorry for what they have done.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 gives us great insight into the difference between worldly sorrow and a sorrow that leads to repentance. There is a sorrow, a godly sorrow, which will produce repentance and deliver you from the power of the sin. Then there is also a sorrow, a worldly sorrow, that produces death.
The evidence of godly sorrow will be seen in the persons life if they are truly repentant.
Godly sorrow will produce vindication. Vindication means that you will not cover up what you have done but you are naming it for what it is, sin.
It will produces indignation which means to grieve, or an anger born out of grief over sins triumph. You will be angry that sin got the best of you, that you gave into sin.
It will produce fear. It’s the fear of God that causes us to depart from sin. A healthy fear of God keeps us from sinning against a holy God.
Godly sorrow will also produce in us a longing, a zeal and an avenging of wrong. We will have a longing to be right with God. We will also have a desire to make things right with all others who might be involved. We will have an earnestness to do all we can do to correct or fix what has been done. To make it right. We will have a commitment to totally avenge the wrong that was done.
Outward signs of sorrow can come easily for anyone, but the heart that is truly repentant, that has godly sorrow will show itself in a changed life. A heart that is truly repentant will show a consistent change in the days, weeks, months afterwards, you will SEE evidence of their sorrow that brings repentance.
As for that 19 year old, it was a sorrow that brought repentance. Since that moment in my life my heart has sought to follow Him.