“Selfish Sorrow”

How do you respond when confronted with sin?  The answer to this question will determine how intimate you become with God.

Of course, we all sin.  And believe it or not… in the pages of scripture, it is not the original sin that is at issue… but the way we react when challenged about our sin.

One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to confront us with our sin.  He may whisper to us while we sit in worship or read our Bible.  He may drop a sudden awareness on us in a startling moment of illumination.  Someone we love may speak the truth in love to us.  Or, we may get caught red-handed and the sudden exposure brings the act of wrongdoing into the spotlight. Whatever the means of conviction, we become aware of sin.

2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that there are two ways people react:  Godly sorrow or worldly (selfish) sorrow.

Godly sorrow turns our attention to God.  We realize that our sin has offended him.  It is against him, above all, that we have sinned.  The end result leaves us free from regret and guilt with a clean heart and clear conscience.

Selfish sorrow turns inward.  Our only concern is for ourself and what the exposure will cost us. It drives us further from God and deeper into sin…with all its attendant baggage.

Genesis 4 delivers a startling picture of selfish sorrow.  God confronts Cain about his brother.  He evades God’s initial inquiry with a callous, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Then, later, when God pronounces judgment, he moans that it is too much for him to bear.

God never confronts or convicts of sin in order to hurt us. Rather, it is always an invitation to reconciliation.  But when we turn our eyes inward, we never recognize God’s invitation.

God’s first response to our sin is always loving.  The question is:  will our response back to God also be loving?


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