Monday, 5 July 2010

Which type of sorrow?

I was struck, yet again, as I was reading some familiar words and God stopped me in my tracks in order to consider what I had read.
Have you ever noticed how you can sometimes look at your watch but if someone asks you the time just afterwards you cannot tell them? You've looked but haven't seen! If we are honest, how often is our reading of the bible a bit like that? It doesn't mean God can't use such 'shallow skin reading' but it is so much more valuable and edifying when we look AND see. We went to the church of a friend of mine last year for a leaders day, RCC in Blackpool, ( ) and one of the exercises we did was to all take a short and familiar passage of scripture and read, prayerfully, it for about 20 mins, which meant repeated reading. Following that we began to share what God had said during that time, and it was, quite literally, a revelation. We had looked and seen, listened and heard and God spoke! An exercise never forgotten although not repeated as often as it should be.
Anyway today I read 2 Corinthians 7:10 :
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Then I went back and read it a few more times and God clearly said 'now apply it to your life, is there anything you need to say to me?'
As I sensed His word I was cut to the heart with the realisation of which 'sorrow' I too easily became more comfortable with! All too easily 'sorry' is a tool used to get our own way or to get us out of trouble 'cheaply'. There too easily becomes a superficiality about the way we use it in daily life that all too soon characterises our approach to God. What should be heartfelt and deep can become shallow and meaningless, manipulative and deceitful and whereas we may get away with it for a while in the world, God will not be mocked (Gal 6:7 ). However the reason such a cavalier attitude to sorrow is taken seriously by God is nothing to do with Him being mocked or otherwise, it is because of the damage caused, the trust that is undermined and the fact that the person using 'sorry' in this way is missing out on the depth of repentance and subsequent richness of experience and relationship with both God and others. God always wants the best for us, which includes the deepest, closest and most authentic relationship with Him and others. The worldly sorrow, where so much of today's culture and media would, perhaps unknowingly, guide us will lead to a slow inner death in which we become overtaken by deceitfulness, content with superficiality, manipulative in relationships, distant from God and our spirits begin to 'wither on the vine'.
We are told in Romans that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance, and it is that same kindness that stops us short when reading His word and gets us to examine our lives and have them realigned with His ways and kingdom values.

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