OK, you’ll be glad to know this will be my last post on godly sorrow. Whew! Aren’t you glad? I hope our examination of this un-popular topic has been meaningful. My desire was that you could view whoever has hurt you or disappointed you as a beloved creation of God in whom God wants to work. And He can use you for their possible repentance by responding in trust that God will bring the justice He desires.
That is what Romans 12: 14, 17-21 says: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord. ‘BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.‘ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NASB).
If you’re like me, you’ve wondered about the “heaping burning coals” thing. Sounds like a great opportunity to take vengeance, doesn’t it? But Chip Ingram in his book Living on the Edge (Howard Books, 2009), explains the meaning of this. He writes, “This is not a picture of being nice to people who were mean to you so God will boil their brains out. The origin of this phrase goes back to an Egyptian ritual in which a man purged his offense by carrying on his head a dish containing burning charcoal on a bed of ashes. When someone realized they were in error, they would take coals from a fire, put them in a pan, put a towel upon their head, and carry the pan throughout the village, declaring they were burning out the bad thinking of the past. In essence, this was an act admitting their wrong and repenting of their past failure.” (page 246).
Do you want the person who has hurt you to do something like that? Wouldn’t that be satisfying? Wouldn’t God like that too? Would you like to assist God in helping someone come to such repentance?
Well, you can. Just look back at those verses and see what lead up to the “for in so doing you will heap….”
- Bless and don’t curse.
- Don’t pay back evil.
- Respect doing right.
- Be at peace with others, as much as you can.
- Don’t take revenge.
If we do those things, there will be a much better possibility that the other person will come to a point of repentance. Godly sorrow puts aside our own hurt and pain and desires their repentance, even to the point of treating them well. This shows our faith that God will work and is a much more effective Holy Spirit than we ever can be.
Thank you for sticking with me as we examined godly sorrow. May what we learned strengthen us for godly living and greater trust in God. And more loving too!