Godly Grief Leads to Life

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.”    (2 Cor. 7:10)

I’ve made many mistakes. Some of my mistakes were fairly harmless, but some led to huge losses. Some were just dumb, but some were willful. Some caused great pain to others, and some great pain to myself.

When I see the damage my mistakes have caused, I can feel either, as Paul says, “worldly grief” or “godly grief.” What’s the difference?

Worldly grief leads to death—that is, it leads to hopelessness and despair. Godly grief leads to repentance—that is, it leads to the hope of being forgiven.

If we have worldly grief, there’s no hope of mercy. Worldly grief says that what we’ve done is so horrible or awful that we can never be forgiven.

If we have godly grief, we do indeed feel regret and remorse for our mistakes, but we also have hope because we trust that the grace of Jesus can forgive whatever we’ve done.

If we ever find that we’re beating ourselves up without restraint or shaming ourselves without mercy, we’ve fallen into worldly grief. During such times, we need to ask for God’s strength to move from worldly grief to Godly grief.

God doesn’t want us to wallow in tearing into ourselves for whatever we have done or not done. God wants us to face into and be accountable for our actions and then trust in His mercy when we fall short.

Worldly grief leads us to believe that our mistakes are bigger than God’s mercy. Godly grief leads us to believe that God’s grace is bigger than all sin, all mistakes, and all messing up.

When we do make mistakes, cause great pain, and do terrible things, we have a choice. We can look at what we have done, or we can look at what God can do.

If we look at what we have done, we will have worldly grief, which leads to death. If we look at what God can do—forgive us—we can have Godly grief, which leads to life.

Today I encourage us to reject worldly grief by holding fast to Godly grief.

Reflection Questions:

  1. We’ve all done things we regret. We all have grief. Does your grief tend to be worldly grief or Godly grief?
  1. If you’re beating yourself up over something you’ve done or not done, you’re indulging in worldly grief. Why do you think or act as though your sin, mistakes, or messes are more powerful than Jesus’ grace to forgive?
  1. Worldly grief leads to condemnation and death. Godly grief leads to hope and life. Which grief do you choose? Which path will you follow?

One thought on “Godly Grief Leads to Life

  1. John Madison

    Thank you, Jim. I needed this, especially now. It seems that when the Christmas season arrives I feel too much grief and distress to let myself enjoy it. But your reminder of God’s mercy is what I need to focus on daily and to allow myself celebrate God’s mercy for all of us. Thank you again.

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