Choosing godly sorrow is a challenge because when we are attacked, misunderstood, or hurt, everything within us wants to fight to stay in control of the situation or defend ourselves. But 2 Corinthians 7:1-16 gives us some insights into living in the Holy Spirit’s power in this area. Verses 1-4 give the motives for godly sorrow; a few verses after that, Paul will directly talk about godly sorrow (which we’ll address in another post).
He writes, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction” (1-4 NASB).
1. Paul’s goal is always cleansing that leads to holiness.
2. Paul shows his motive of being at peace with everyone. His attitude is not one of forcing others to admit how right he is. He does, in a sense, defend his actions, but there’s no sense of a demand that others agree with him.
3. Paul makes it clear that his desire is not to condemn but to reconcile and encourage. He is “for” them; not against them. He is even willing to die alongside them or live with them. He doesn’t withdraw from them because they are sinning or being imperfect.
4. Paul expresses his confidence that good things will happen. He is not trying to whip them into shape by being negative or stressing all the bad things they’ve done. Because their behavior is not a reflection of himself, he can live in joy, without worry or fear that his own reputation is being ruined.
Paul’s pure motive comes through clearly. He’s not angry. He’s not pointing a finger at them. He wants them to come to repentance through godly sorrow and he will say it plainly in the next verses.
When we want to correct someone, let’s examine our own motives to see if we can seek after Paul’s heart.