For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive
that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not
that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a
godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh
repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For
behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in
you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what
vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved
yourselves to be clear in this matter.
(2 Corinthians 7:8-11 KJV)
There are times when it seems that those who rebuke and reprove do not care. It seems as
though they are not touched by the turmoil that is created in the hearts of those who are the brunt
of their efforts. It seems as though they are hard-hearted and without care. That can be, and many
times is the perspective of those who are being corrected.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son,
despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For
whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye
endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father
chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye
bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us,
and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of
spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he
for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless
afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised
thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make
straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather
(Hebrews 12:5-13 KJV)
Behind the reproof and rebuke of Paul (and what should be behind the reproof and rebuke of all)
was a deep and abiding love for those whom he addressed. He was speaking the truth in love.
A truth, like looking in the mirror naked, is a truth that many times we wish we could avoid, and too
often refuse to acknowledge. Thus, the one speaking the truth is lashed out at in an effort to
negate that truth and make it go away. But, as smashing the mirror does not change the reality
that it reflected in that mirror, so lashing out at the one speaking the truth does not change the
truth that has been spoken.
Paul went to Corinth from Athens. There he met Priscilla and Aquilla, and preached in the
synagogue of the Jews until they refused to listen, even though a few prominent Jews believed
and obeyed. Then he turned to the Gentiles. [see Acts 18:1-10]
And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
(Acts 18:11 KJV)
Following that he was brought to trial before Galio, when the accusers were beaten. So Paul
remained in Corinth a little longer. [see Acts 18:12-18]
After spending approximately two years at Corinth, Paul was not disinterested in them and in the
church there. He had time, sweat and blood invested in these brethren. Their actions touched his
heart. The apostle loved them. Paul did not want to make them mad, he wanted them to do what
His heart was pained when he thought that they had not responded well to his epistle, but when
he realized their response had caused them to change, he was relieved and even happy.
When he thought his words had caused them sorrow, he regretted saying them. He was not
saying these things to make them feel bad, yet he feared that was the result. How many times do
we speak with all the good intentions in the world, only to regret the way the words came out
and/or the result they produce in the hearer? Unlike Paul, who had the Holy Spirit to guide him,
we speak from human wisdom which sometimes fails in its ability to frame the words that we
wish to speak to accomplish the desired end. When this happens, sorrow is not only created in
the heart of the hearers, but engraved in the heart of the speaker.
Yet, the words of Paul had more than the effect of sorrow, they brought about a godly sorrow that
caused them to repent – to change their minds and action. There are different kinds of sorrow.
There is the embarrassment of being caught at doing what is wrong. There is the fear and horror
of facing the consequences of your action. And then there is the recognition that what you have
done is wrong – wrong in the sight of God, and you need to change – change the way you think,
and change the way you act –realizing that you can no longer continue in your present conduct
because it is ruinous to your soul – ruinous to your relationship with God, and your eternal
destiny. The first sorrow at getting caught may make your face red. The second sorrow may make
you mad. The third sorrow is a godly sorrow that works repentance, or causes you to repent.
This third sorrow is what the Corinthians felt at the rebuke of Paul. Because of that, he did not
regret saying what he did, but was glad that he did. This sorrow would do them good, the greatest
imaginable good – it would bring them to the salvation of their souls!
This sorrow brought spiritual life. The other types of sorrow bring spiritual death. With them, there
is no change in mind – no change in heart – no change in the soul – no change in the life – no
change in the relationship with God. They may cause one to be more careful so they will not be
caught, but they do not bring one to the realization of the moral and spiritually mortal error
committed, and what continuation in its action will do.
A realization of the truth character of an action in the sight of God causes the person to pause – to
stop and consider where they are at, where they are heading, and where they will end up. All of a
sudden, there is the realization that it does matter what you do, and where you are. There is an
instant care that develops.
This causes the person to want to clear the heart and soul of the soil and pollution that sin has brought upon them. It is that same
desire that swelled within the hearts of those on Pentecost, causing them to cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They
were convicted in their hearts, minds and consciences of the killing of the Son of God, realizing “..that God hath made that same
Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36 KJV)
For those who have never accepted Jesus, the answer was to be found in the words of Peter: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent,
and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And
with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly
received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:38-41 KJV)
For those who were Christians, the answer is to be found in the words of John: “This then is the message which we have heard of
him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in
darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the
blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in
us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we
have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5-10 KJV)
This is exemplified in the case of Simon of Samaria. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For
unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that
were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the
same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave
heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long
time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and
the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized,
he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at
Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come
down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw
that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power,
that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou
hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right
in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven
thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the
Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the
word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.” (Acts 8:5-25 KJV)
Paul realized that their response was one that grew, or swelled within their hearts and minds from sorrow, to carefulness, to
indignation, to fear, to vehement desire, to zeal to revenge! Realizing that the action was wrong in the sight of God, out of respect for
God they had a strong determined desire, a fire that burned in their hearts and souls to do that which was right to right the wrong!
Oh, that all of us would allow this feeling to grow in our hearts and souls when we see our sin, as God sees our sin. May we realize
that we are but sinful creatures in the sight of a righteous God!
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer
bullocks upon thine altar.
(Psalms 51:1-19 KJV)