The Real Thing
9As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no less through us. 10For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:9-10
One thing I love about my wife is her passion for real food. Not processed “food” but the real stuff. After ten years of marriage, I even find myself checking labels on food items at the store. I don’t want artificial ingredients. Essentially, I don’t want fake food; I want the real thing.
The same should be true of our walk with Christ. Without question, transformation is a vital part of our growth in becoming mature Christians. Yet the whole process of change can be derailed if one artificial ingredient is inserted . . . even accidentally. That ingredient is what Paul called “worldly grief.”
Just like the ingredients in your food, grief must be real. Artificial grief will not work, or bring lasting change. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting . . . For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
The test of grief is not elephant tears, tearing yourself down, or a willingness to try better or harder next time. For sure it is not about sorrow over getting caught or having to suffer the consequences of a choice. Sadly, many people settle for artificial grief that focuses on surface issues and never addresses the real heart issues.
The test of genuine grief is the presence of heart-level repentance. Truly confessing our sin to God and turning away from that sin. Repentance demonstrates itself in passion for biblical change, regardless of the difficult decisions that must be made to walk out that repentance. It’s a repentance that strikes deep and we just know that we have to turn from what we’ve been doing wrong.
King David is a great example on how to respond to the conviction of sin with genuine grief and heart-level repentance. In Psalm 51 after falling into to egregious sin, David pours out his heart to the Lord in confession, he holds nothing back; then he asked the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10).
So, the next time we find ourselves being confronted by the Holy Spirit about our sin, let’s do away with artificial nonsense and stick with real grief and real repentance. That is the only way to real healing and change and brings the greatest joy in Christ!
Prayer – Father in heaven, true transformation is so difficult and so painful. Thank You for doing what is necessary to keep changing me into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Forgive me all the times when I act like I’m sorry for something when I’m not. Forgive me when I justify bad behavior rather than turning from it. Give me the courage I need to accept whatever You will in my life for my sanctification. In Jesus’ name, Amen.