“I’m sorry!” (or simply “Sorry!” … Body language and vocal inflection says a lot about how sincere those words are! But even more important is what is sometimes referred to by the adage, “the proof is in the pudding” or perhaps another saying that emphasizes that words alone are simply not enough – there must be actions that demonstrate authentic sorrow and repentance!
In my Bible reading today (2 Corinthians 7:5-16) Apostle Paul addressed a painful situation he had to deal with as a spiritual leader in a local church. He had written a painful letter that dealt with the issue, giving direction that confronted the problem and prescribed the remedy. He had waited with anticipation and prayerfulness to see what the response would be. Paul was relieved and thrilled to receive a report from Titus, his representative, that the response was sincere and positive!
So what kind of “sorrow” (and repentance) makes a difference? What satisfies God (and thrills those who are charged with the difficult task of spiritual leadership? Here’s Apostle Paul’s wise commentary on the issue…
“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways! IT WAS THE KIND OF SORROW GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO HAVE! … THE KIND OF SORROW GOD WANTS US TO EXPERIENCE LEADS US AWAY FROM SIN AND RESULTS IN SALVATION! There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right!” (2 Corinthians 7:8–11 NLT)
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve been confronted with sin in your life – something you did (or failed to do) that was wrong! I have!!! It hurts – it’s painful – it’s embarrassing – it can make you mad! Or it can lead you to repentance, healing and restoration! If that’s your situation (or it has been in the past and is still unresolved) I suggest listening and responding positively to Apostle Paul’s advice. I did! … And I’m the better for it!!!