1 Corinthians 7:8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). 9 Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
Throughout the scriptures we are told that God disciplines his children, as would any good parent. Paul has also referred to himself as a spiritual father to the people of the church in Corinth. Likewise, he brings verbal or written discipline to the Corinthians when appropriate. I like this passage because Paul makes an important distinction between what he calls “godly grief” and “worldly grief”.
Worldly grief might also be referred to as “condemnation”. This sort of rebuke gets personal. It not only condemns the wrongful act, but the actor as well. It diminishes on a personal level, tearing someone down. Taking life away. It is destructive by nature.
If you ever watched Simon Cowell (pictured above) back when he appeared on the show American Idol (especially in the early seasons of the show), you got a glimpse of worldly grief. Simon didn’t just critique the singer’s performance, but often demeaned the singer in the process.
Godly grief also confronts the wrongful act, but seeks to uplift the offender in the process. It’s goal is repentance, which leads to greater intimacy and communion with God – not banishment from God or condemnation. In this way, it seeks to give life, not take life away. It is ultimately creative, not destructive.
Our goal, as leaders/parents should be to always bring discipline or correction in such a way as to inspire repentance rather than condemnation. We want to point out the offending act, while affirming our belief in the person. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Lord God, as leaders on earth in our homes/workplaces/churches/communities we are often called to bring correction/confrontation with other people. Give us grace to do so in a way that gives life rather than taking life away. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.