Turn or Expect Godly Grief[This article is part of the series, Turntables]
Hope this article series has been an encouragement to you. If anything, it probably reveals what I believe, and how I see things. The goal, however, isn’t to simply share my opinions; I’m trying to seek the truth. I want to head towards Christ and love God with my mind. Repentance is an obvious theme throughout the entire Bible. I find it appropriate to continue the discussion of biblical repentance so that we may love God and grow in the knowledge of Christ.
Let’s be honest, in America, the word repent has become such a dirty word. People hear the word repent and may immediately think of a street-corner preacher that yells at people. The word has been treated so flippantly that most common people are turned off to the word, and rightfully so.
Even in the church, it has become a word we don’t like to hear. It’s an uncomfortable, challenging word. When we are told to repent we resist it. I usually do. My natural self simply wants affirmed. Just affirm me and I’ll be on my way. I’d be surprised if I’m the only one.
The truth is, every one of us needs to repent. Not just once—repentance needs to be our way of life, as followers of Christ. We’ve got a decision to make: will we choose God’s way of doing things, or our own way, the world’s way? Unfortunately we have to make this decision because God says you cannot be a friend to both God and the world (cf. James 4:4). It’s one or the other.
These are two completely different worlds—one will always give us grief while the other offers acceptance. The Apostle Paul had a handful while dealing with the Christian church in Corinth. They were a mess. His first letter to them was full of intensity. The church had issues. You think your church has issues? Read 1 Corinthians.
Paul loved the Corinthian church family as his own children. He said to the church, “Though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). And do you know what Paul did as their spiritual parent? He gave them some words…
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 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. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians: 7:8-10, ESV)
Needless to say, no born-again believer enjoys seeing people grieve. None of us enjoy grieving, and none of us want to grieve others. The goal of every Christian should be to encourage and build up the body of Christ. However, sometimes godly grief happens, and it produces repentance.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church made many of them grieve. They were not happily lifted in their spirits. Some of them felt the weight of God’s disapproval. And it was a healthy thing. Not that Paul enjoyed making them grieve, but he was encouraged to see they took it serious, dealt with the hard stuff, and repented of their sin. This, my friends, is worth celebrating.
It is wrong to seek to make people grieve. It’s not wrong to be used by God to help them move towards Christ. This involves much wisdom and discernment. I believe if we go about this flippantly we may cause more harm than good. We must be very careful about how we are involved in matters like these. It would be better to simply say we shouldn’t seek this kind of situation out, but if it happens, it may very well be the work of God.
Many of us are haunted by this kind of experience in church, where our sins are in the light, we talk about it, and public repentance is displayed. None of us long for these hard times to occur, but they really happen because we have a lot of sin that needs thrown in the trash.
I felt this idea was worth adding in the Turntables series because repentance is uncomfortable. None of us enjoy talking about our mistakes, failures, addictions, and sinful behaviors. But listen to me, we need to stick together, watch out for one another, and speak the truth to one another in love. If we don’t we will die in our sins. If we don’t undergo some training, correction, and repentance, we remain weak in faith, unfit, untrained, unfruitful, and ungodly.
Again, we’ve got a choice to make between the world’s way or God’s way. Unfortunately, you can’t have the best of both worlds. You will hate one and love the other. Will you be accepted by the world or by God? Which kingdom is your citizenship in? You cannot be a citizen in both worlds. You only have one soul.
Will you choose to be like Paul who told the Corinthians, “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27)? Can you relate to the tax collector who couldn’t lift his eyes to heaven but beat his chest saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13)?
Godly grief is not meant to lead you to a life of misery. It will produce repentance and godliness. With these comes freedom, everlasting life, and unquenchable joy. Repentance is one of those hard things every Christian must go through. We cannot live however we want, but we submit to God in everything. As followers of Christ, we believe that God’s way is the best and only way. By accepting the invitation to repent, we are producing godly fruit that remains, which leads to salvation without regret.
View another Turntables article here.