Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
What is the difference between God’s way of sadness and the world’s way of sadness? Consider two of the people central to this Holy Week: Peter and Judas. After the Last Supper, Peter followed Jesus to the home of the high priest where he proceded to deny three times that he even knew Jesus. When he realized what he had done, he “wept bitterly”. That was the first step toward his restoration that came when Jesus appeared to him and then his conversation with the risen Jesus at the lakeshore. On the other hand, Judas, who betrayed Jesus when he lead the high priest’s servants to Jesus in the garden, was “seized with remorse” and plunged into the world’s kind of sadness. In Matthew’s gospel, we read how Judas threw back the money at the feet of the chief priest and went away and hanged himself. Two types of sadness; two different results.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was intended to prompt sadness, a sadness that would lead to repentance.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. (7:4)No doubt the Corinthians were upset by the rebuke that Paul had given them. Paul’s only motive was to lead them closer to Christ and deeper in faith.
Sometimes we must face rebuke, as painful as that may be, in order to reach a depth of faith that leads us ever closer to Christ. The Corinthians could have read the letters of Paul and destroyed them – “Who does Paul think he is to talk to us that way!” But instead, they received his words, embraced their sadness as a step toward repentance.
This is Holy Saturday – a day between great regret and astounding hope. What I choose to do with this day will determine which way I will go.