I have a little quirk where I say, "I'm sorry" to everyone all day long. Now I hear our daughter saying it, and I want to be more careful. I want to say what I mean. Do you remember "My bad?" That was such a useful little phrase. It's not appropriate for me to use that in my little world, but I miss it. In the meantime, I have diluted the words we have for genuine apologies.
"I'm sorry" while my children were trailing into Target and the hurried guy was trying to enter at the same time and had to wait for us.
"I'm sorry, sweet girl, but those clothes do not match."
"I'm sorry those clothes are not appropriate."
"I'm sorry that you cannot wear that."
I have a lot of fashion related conversations with one of our kids.
"I'm sorry about the pain that your family is feeling these days."
"I'm sorry that we can't make it to that."
"I'm sorry that you lost your job."
"I'm sorry that I said that."
2 Corinthians 7:10-13
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret but worldy sorrow brings death.
Last week, I had some sweet friends over for an Encouragement Night at my house. They prayed for me, and I prayed with them. We talked about worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow. We talked about regret and how none of us like it. We looked at the passage above in light of God's plan for us: sorrow that leads to salvation that then leads to satisfaction.
Satisfaction means that we are not weighed down with regret. We are settled and peaceful and in a good place. We have an open line between to the Lord. We have confessed our sins; we have been praising Him and thanking Him regularly. Most importantly, we see that although we may have received salvation for our sin's punishment, we have accepted God's grace through Jesus. But there are situations every day where we need salvation. There are relationships that need to be healed, rescued, and saved.
We have heard so much about leaders of companies trying to save jobs. There are jobs that need to be saved. We need a Savior. We need that salvation with no regrets. Godly sorrow also involves pulling down any walls between us and God. I would include sin or hurt feelings or confusion or fear or addictions that have crept into our relationship with God. If we feel worldly sorrow, we are stuck. If we stay stuck, our relationship erodes. That brings death.
Worldly sorrow is really an experience where we feel sad or even regret something, but do not change. Have you ever felt powerless about something that you continued to do or say even though it made you miserable? Have you ever been stuck in a cycle of sin and regret and sin and more regret?
With Godly sorrow, however, we take a different road. We repent. I always think of that voice in the wilderness calling, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 3:2) John the Baptist introduced his listeners to changing their mind. In Mark 1:4, it is described as a baptism of repentance. He offered people a Savior to change their minds about their religious ruts and a way to step into a new life.
Unless we step out of that circle and do something radical to start a new path, we will dread the sound of our own words: "I'm sorry."