Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sorrow, Godly Or Worldly?

SOR'ROW, n. The uneasiness or pain of mind which is produced by the loss of any good. or of frustrated hopes of good, or expected loss of happiness; to grieve; to be sad.

When we think about sorrow we think about pain. Pain can be physical  or emotional but sorrow is strictly emotional. It is a heartfelt type of pain. When it comes to our children, when we see them in pain, whether physical or emotional, we ourselves hurt and experience a degree of pain because we can identify with the pain of our children. 

Often times our hearts go out to such a degree that we wish the pain could be transferred on to us. We want to ease their pain. We want to stop whatever it is that is hurting them. We might offer them a candy, a day out, a toy. We watch the tears streaming down from our child's eyes and we ourselves might cry. We don't know what to say or what to do to help them, sometimes. Worse still, is if we were the cause of this pain.

I think of the sorrow that was felt in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve felt shame for the first time. I can imagine the sorrow that filled their hearts. When God banned them from ever entering the garden again, what sorrow must have filled their hearts. The grief, of the death, of a son that was murdered by the hands of another son. What horrible sorrow.

The story of sorrow has filled the earth since that day and it hasn't relented. All the sorrows of the garden have been replayed like a rerun that is unending and we are still experiencing this sorrow today.

In the new testament, we read in the first letter written to the Corinthians that they had been made sorrowful. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about disunity in the body of Christ, spiritual immaturity and pride in worldly wisdom, all sorts of sexual immorality, lawsuits and how to handle these issues. 

Paul clearly and decisively addresses these sin issues and in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, he commends them for how they responded to his letter.

Read this slowly...

  I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.  

It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have
so you were not harmed by us in any way.   

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

 When Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers he was sorrowful because he had to say hard things to them and he was not happy with them. He wanted to commend them but he couldn't. 

In this same way, we parents need to approach our children. Because we want the best for them and because we are their shepherds we need and must confront sin. We will have to give an account for how we handled the sin we see in our children's lives and how to address it. 

Eli and his sons were punished severely. Eli for not disciplining his sons and disregarding the Lord and Eli's sons (Hophni and Phinehas) for disregarding the Lord and treating sacrifices to the Lord with contempt. He new what his sons were doing but did not remove them from their responsibilities and give them their due consequence. He rebuked them but he did not discipline the Lord did. (1 Samuel 2:22-35)

How many times have we rebuked our children by saying, "don't do that, stop, no, I'm telling Dad, didn't I say..., 1...2...3..." and then, nothing. No follow through. No discipline. No consequence. We allow them to continue. Or maybe we try to distract them and move there attention on to something else. Has the issue of the heart been addressed?

Now, we cannot change the heart of a child but we can use discipline to get their attention. We know our children want to please us and when they see that we are not pleased they are filled with sorrow. (If they are not filled with sorrow at all that is an other issue to be discussed at a later time) But what kind of sorrow? Is it the godly kind or the worldly kind? 

The feeling of sorrow is not enough to produce a change. That is why we can see a child full of sorrow, remorseful and regretful over a wrong done but in no time, back to the same thing that they were so grieved over. 

It is the same with us as adults. Godly sorrow leads us away from sin and brings eternal life. Worldly sorrow leads us to death. It is the same with our children. 

Sometimes, when sin is pointed out, our children receive the correction easily and obey (like the Corinthian believers) but other times when sin is pointed out (like was the case with Eli's sons) they do not respond and we must discipline them.  

Proverbs 13:24 tells us:
 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children.
    Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.
Hebrews 12:10-12 tells us:
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
We do the best we know how and God does the rest. 
Let's ask God to give us wisdom, discernment, an understanding to what is really going on and most of all, let's ask God to grant our children (us) godly sorrow that leads to repentance and eternal life. If we cause sorrow, like Paul did, may it be godly sorrow and may we see what godly sorrow produces in our children. God wants us to experience this type of sorrow, godly sorrow, so that we might share in his holiness.

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