“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world leads to death.”
II Corinthians 7:10
As I started to search the background scriptures leading up to this verse, there were several points of consideration worthy of my attention.
- The Apostle Paul appealed to the readers (II Cor. 6:11-18) that his heart was open to them and was hoping that they would open their hearts to hear what he had to say. He had spoken plainly to them in his first letter words of correction because he loved them.
- He was not trying to restrict them but wanted them to know that their own affections for the things of this world were the real restrictions.
- Idolatry (those “affections”) was the real problem that he was addressing. While we, today, may not physically prostrate ourselves to Belial, we can feed our worldly affections (ie. money, sex, power, etc.) to the point of worshiping those very real idols. Unfortunately, we have the predisposition to worship other gods “before God”, thus breaking the first and greatest commandment. When the Corinthians were engaging in the prevailing practices of their culture, they were (in effect) joining themselves to Belial. Perhaps our culture has a similar effect on us while we are not even cognizant of the spiritual/emotional impact upon us. In another place, Paul tells us to not be “squeezed into the mold of this world.”
- Paul reminds the Church that they are the temple of the living God. He quotes Old Testament scriptures attesting to the prophetic fact that they are recipients of those promises of His constant PRESENCE in them and among them. However, there seems to be the contingency requiring them to be separate from the practices of their godless culture.
- The scriptures (II Cor. 7:1-12) continue to carry the theme that the Corinthians needed to take action that was consistent with the will of God.
- Since we have these promises of the Lord’s presence in our lives, our response should be to cleanse ourselves. If we embrace the primary fear of God, we will expel those affections that tend to grab our attention.
- Clearly, the Lord was telling the Corinthians that they would suffer loss…things that in their previous lives brought them identity. Interesting enough, Paul had already told them that those affections were really the things that restricted them.
- Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety in the heart of man leads to depression, but a good word makes it glad.” I have found in my life that anxiety is primarily a fear of loss. As I am about to lose something or am in the midst of losing it, my focus is on that thing. It generally takes precedence over most other things. What can I do to hold on to it? The thought doesn’t cross my mind to ask the Lord if I should release it. Hence…anxiety.
In my own loss of my first business I willingly gave it up, even while desiring to direct it into future successes. I ended up grieving for about 2 years. It was a difficult time because so much of my identity was integrated into the development of “my baby”. Looking back, I see where that suffering taught me a greater obedience and dependency on Christ, learning that my actual identity was in the producer (from Whom all blessing flow), and not in the product (“my” business).
In two past careers where I went through lay-offs after 10 years of service (each), I also grieved…but not as long. Not as much of me was invested in those employments as was in my own enterprise. However, that is not to say that I didn’t stress about my own financial security and other concerns at the time. As a result of being “forced out” of those careers, I started to see the freedom that the Lord had afforded me to come into some of His Purposes for me that I never would have seen if I had been able to stay in those employments. A frequent quip of mine became, “There is life after lay-off.”
Returning to my opening scripture about godly sorrow producing repentance: these experiences worked in me a type of “repentance”, not of sin but of direction. As the reader may know, repentance is simply turning away from something and heading the opposite (or another) direction. With each loss, I have learned to more quickly “repent” and it has become salvation for me, in that I am less stressed and more fully engaged in those things that I believe that I am more specifically designed to do in this season of my life. Paul also told us to forget the things that were in the past, pressing onward to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. After my most recent employment loss I have struggled a bit but am gradually seeing that there is something else in my future for me to get on with. There is a new furrow to be plowed.
Early on I also described myself as being “busier” than I had ever been, but some of that must be credited to my search for meaningful engagement of my efforts and learning how to balance my unscheduled time, now that I did not have to arrive at an office or on the job. I am gradually learning contentment with just making myself available to others instead of having to build something fantastic.