These words are often spoken. Hardly a day does not go by but what we utter this expression. We commonly make mistakes or blunders that should not cause us to rejoice. There is no time for a Christian to rejoice in hurting any individual. As one meditates upon such deeds, sorrow should prevail in our hearts and we need to be ready to say “I’m sorry”. It is good for us to feel and express the sentiment of sorrow for misfortunes that we might bring upon others.
The expression should be spoken with sincerity. It is easy to say things that are spoken without the true meaning being involved. Jesus said of some: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:8). We need to say what we mean and mean what we say. It is convenient for people to use this expression to merely relieve them from the consequence of their deeds. When they say “I’m sorry”, the expression does not actually come from the heart and their actions later evidence this to be true. Recently, I was confronted with a person who felt that I had made a mistake. Though it was not really something of great significance, I stated that I was sorry for what had occurred. His reply was “that doesn’t cut it”. He felt some compensation should accompany the expression and he was possibly within his rights to say so. One of the better ways to suggest our sincerity is to endeavor to show that our deeds are in accord with saying “I’m sorry”. An individual said he was sorry for his failure to produce as a partner in a project. He was told that in the dictionary sorry is just a little before spit and spite. Though this can be carried to extremes, fruits of sorrow were evidently what he was expecting to accompany the expression.
Paul wrote of sorrow in the 7th chapter of II Corinthians: “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.” (II Corinthians 7:8-10). These verses reveal different categories of sorrow. There is godly sorrow and sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. The sorrow of the world worketh death. Godly sorrow is after a godly manner and can produce repentance. The sorrow of the world worketh death that certainly is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. When we say “I’m sorry” are we expressing godly sorrow or sorrow of the world?
There are examples of these sorrows in individuals depicted in the New Testament books. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He related that these he had kept from his youth. His next question was what Lack I yet? “Jesus said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:20-22). Yes, he experienced sorrow, but it was sorrow of the world. He was not ready to pay the cost of discipleship. These worldly possessions meant more to him that the blessings available in following Jesus. Actually, he said “I’m sorry” to Jesus, but I’m keeping what I have rather than obeying your commandments. Perhaps Judas Iscariot would fall under this category of sorrow. The account in Matthew 27:3-5 suggests that he experienced sorrow regarding his betrayal of Jesus. His sorrow literally worketh death as he “departed, and went and hanged himself.” (vs. 5).
Godly sorrow involves being sorry for one’s sins. The sinner comes to acknowledge that the will of God has been violated and the Lord’s forgiveness is needed. Such an attitude motivates one to repent and conform to God’s requirements. No one becomes a Christian without experiencing godly sorrow. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, there were those pricked in their hearts. They were sorry for their part in crucifying the son of God. They asked what to do that they might call on the name of the Lord and be right in the sight of God. They were told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (vs.38). With godly sorrow in their hearts, it was no problem in gladly receiving the word and being baptized. (vs. 41). So many today are sorry, but it is not godly sorrow that worketh repentance. When one has done wrong, it is good to hear the person say “I’m sorry.” But is it sorrow because one has been caught in the wrong and nothing more than sorrow or the world? Or is it, sorrow of a godly manner that leads one to repent of the wrong to be right in the sight of the Lord?
We need to prayerfully think on these things!
-Bobby K. Thompson
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