Confronting sin causes sorrow that leads to either salvation or death. How can you find the one while avoiding the other?
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2 Corinthians 7 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends,
purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Make room for us in your hearts.
We have wronged no one,
we have corrupted no one,
we have exploited no one.
3 I do not say this to condemn you;
I have said before
that you have such a place in our hearts
that we would live or die with you.
4 I have spoken to you with great frankness;
I take great pride in you.
I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
5 For when we came into Macedonia,
we had no rest,
but we were harassed at every turn—
conflicts on the outside, fears within.
6 But God,
who comforts the downcast,
comforted us by the coming of Titus,
7 and not only by his coming
but also by the comfort you had given him.
He told us about
your longing for me,
your deep sorrow,
your ardent concern for me,
so that my joy was greater than ever.
8 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—
9 yet now I am happy,
not because you were made sorry,
but because your sorrow led you to repentance.
became sorrowful as God intended
and so were not harmed in any way by us.
10 Godly sorrow
that leads to salvation
and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.
11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you:
what eagerness to clear yourselves,
what readiness to see justice done.
At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
12 So even though I wrote to you,
it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong
nor on account of the injured party,
but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.
13 By all this we are encouraged.
In addition to our own encouragement,
we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was,
because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me.
just as everything we said to you was true,
so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well.
15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers
that you were all obedient,
receiving him with fear and trembling.
16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
2 Corinthians 7 Summary
It's never easy to call out sin in the lives of other people, even when (especially when!) the motivations for doing so are good and proper.
The Corinthian church had been tolerating some very wicked sins, and Paul risked his entire ministry and relationships with people he loved in order to call them to repentance.
Paul was willing to cause sorrow in this church community, because,
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret... (v10)
Paul had confidence in the Holy Spirit's ability to use the sorrow Paul caused by confronting the Corinthians to bring them to repentance. The final few verses of the chapter make it clear that although Paul's confrontation brought temporary pain, it quickly gave way to salvation and deep seated joy & encouragement.
Notice that v10 differentiates between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Too often our goal in confronting wrongs is to bring retribution; to cause the offender pain because that's what the offender deserves.
We've seen so many confrontations over sin go bad, even if the initial motivation was solid and pure, so it's our instinct to avoid these bad situations altogether.
On the one hand we're tempted to just ignore sin - to live and let live. On the other hand, we might just subtly excise the offender from our lives. Anything seems better than an uncomfortable, awkward interaction that could possibly result in lifelong wounds. But this avoidance often leads to worldly sorrow that brings death.
Don't cower away from using Godly sorrow when the Holy Spirit is calling you to do so. This fear may cause both you and the offender to miss out on the joy that Godly sorrow can lead to.
The best way to differentiate between these two kinds of sorrow is to check your motivation before confronting somebody. Make sure you're acting in love, that the sin you're confronting is actually a sin and not just a pet peeve, and that your goal is to bring the offender to repentance and salvation.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father is the God who comforts the downcast (v6)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be able to repent of your own sins and lovingly cause sorrow to bring others to repentance.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: