the way home, Husband and I talk with the boys about the sermon. They all started around age 6 with taking actual notes. Spelling does not count. Pictures and diagrams, not doodling, is also allowed. It helps keep them mentally engaged with the sermon. The narration part in the car afterwards helps us know if they are understanding what they heard and clear up any confusion or answer questions.
This week we talked about the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Our sermon was on how excessive sorrow and grief are a breaking of the sixth commandment because they lead to a self-murder. This post covered those points.
So in the car I asked the boys what was the difference between the two. One answered that worldly sorrow was being sad over the wrong things. For example, being sorrowful that you did not have all the money you wanted. Godly sorrow was being sad over the things that make God sad, like sin.
He got it partially correct. Worldly sorrow can involve despair over sinful things. A whole gambit there...I'm sad because I can't fulfill my lusts, my greed, my indulgences, my idolatries, et cetera. And godly sorrow certainly does involve hating the things that God hates, like lusts, greed, indulgences, idolatries, et cetera. Our sorrow for another person caught in those sins is a reflection of Jesus' own weeping over Jerusalem for her rejection of Him as the Christ.
But the other significant difference between the two has to do with what each leads to in the life of a believer. Worldly sorrow leads one to hate God in the sense of having so much despair over the "whatever" in their life that they do not obey God. Instead they indulge in rejection of His Word, His comforts, His forgiveness, His means of grace. Worldly sorrow blinds a person to the redemptive nature of God to complete His perfect and good purpose no matter the circumstance. Worldly sorrow means that you do not want to obey God, and therefore, cannot obey God. Worldly sorrow paralyzes and traps.
Godly sorrow though does not lead to paralyzing despair but to confession and repentance and fervent seeking after the Word of God, His comforts, His forgiveness, and His means of grace. Godly sorrow motivates a person to obey God by deliberate response, to believe God by faith, to receive God's redemptive purposes in all circumstances. Godly sorrow means that you do want to obey God, and therefore, will be used by God. Often as the minister of comfort to another. (2 Cor. 1:3-7) Godly sorrow motivates and frees.
I have experienced both cases. Trust me, godly sorrow is the better end because our God is a God of hope and promise. He does bring beauty from ashes and gladness from mourning.
How do you cultivate godly sorrow instead of worldly sorrow? By the disposition of cheerfulness. I don't mean the slap-an-artificial-smile-on-your-face-whistling-life-is-good-cheerfulness. I do mean a deliberate intention of the heart to be filled with the kindness, generosity, patience, gladness and love of the Lord. And those fruits only come through the purposeful study of His Word and the means of grace. Hearing the Word preached, taking of His supper, and the disciplines of prayer and Bible study. That's where the Holy Spirit fills you up and makes you glad though the world would look at you and your circumstances and see no reason whatsoever for the true smile on your face.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Psalm 119:28
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50