2 Cor. 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
I spent a good amount of my childhood and adolescence feeling sorrow as a result of my behavior. Like any kid, I tried to get away with my share of disobedient acts only to be caught and punished. I recall one particular instance when I decided to skip a couple classes during high school and accompany a friend of mine to her dentist appointment. On the way back we stopped at the mall, and I picked up a poster. My older sister wondered where I had gotten the poster since I should have been at school all day, and I told her in confidence expecting her not to rat me out. Of course, mom found out from her and decided to call the school principal and report what I had done. That certainly brought me sorrow but only because the punishment was Saturday detention, not because I had violated the authority placed above me.
There are those who are sorry because they misbehaved. There are others who are sorry only because they got caught. That is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. We have experienced godly sorrow if we have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is the moment when we recognize that our sinfulness is a violation of God’s law and is something which hurts him. The repentance which comes from godly sorrow is born from a realization and appreciation of the evil we have perpetrated against our Creator. It is not the pain of punishment which moves us but the pain at seeing how we have sinned against our heavenly Father by defying him. That is the difference between one who apologizes in order to be polite and one who apologizes to set things right.
The godly sorrow which brings about repentance is not meant to tear us down and keep us low. It is meant to bring us restoration and raise us above the sins we have committed. God desires that we have contrite hearts, that we recognize the error of our ways and pursue correction, but He is no brow beater. It is for us to learn and grow as a result of repentance. It is for us to continue to transform as part of the process. Yes, the idea of eternal separation from God should bring us some measure of fear, but it is not terror which moves us to godly sorrow. We are moved to that place by love and humility, by a sincere desire to please our Father in heaven. Father, fill us with godly sorrow that we would have a sincere desire to obey You because it pleases You and because we love You.