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Daily Devotional | Godly Sorrow

In one of his fables, Aesop told the story of a farmer who wanted to purchase a new donkey and took it home to test it out first. But when the animal chose a place next to the barn’s laziest beast, the farmer promptly returned it to the original owner. “I don’t need to test it any further,” the farmer said. “I could see the sort of beast he is from the companion he chose for himself.” Aesop’s moral: “A person is known by the company they keep.”

Paul made a similar point when he urged the Corinthians to separate themselves from those who opposed his teaching. To support his point, he asked five questions and quoted several Old Testament passages that emphasized the need for God’s people to distinguish themselves from unbelievers (6:14–7:1). This strong language reveals that the traits of the so-called “super-apostles” who had stirred the Corinthians against Paul were more than differences of personality and style. They were morally compromised false teachers who opposed the gospel.

However, not everyone had turned against Paul. The apostle was encouraged by news from Titus that many in the church had repented (7:8–9). The apostle provides a helpful description of true repentance in verses 10–11. There is more to repentance than feeling bad about what we have done. There is sorrow, but it is combined with a turning to God for forgiveness and an earnest desire to put things right. This kind of repentance is not a “guilt trip” but a prompting evoked by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). In other words, the mark of godly sorrow is that it causes us to move toward God instead of away from Him.

>> Do you feel regret over your sin? The sorrow you feel will do you no good unless it moves you to look to Christ for forgiveness. Repentance is a turning from sin to God. You may regret your sins, but nobody regrets true repentance.

Pray with Us

Lord, as we grieve over our sins, we ask that You help us direct this grief not into efforts to alleviate our sense of guilt but into repenting and making things right with You.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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