I wanted to post this yesterday, but I already had another post scheduled. Anyway… we’ve probably all heard Rep. Anthony Weiner’s admission about sending inappropriate pictures and texts over his Twitter account. As I was listening to his press conference I kept hearing one statement over and over… “I take responsibility for my actions.” Never once did I hear, “I accept the consequences of my actions.”
There is a huge difference between “taking responsibility” and “accepting the consequences.” Taking responsibility is exactly what he did. Taking responsibility is: “I did it.” “I shouldn’t have done it.” “It was me.” “I’ve asked for forgiveness.” Okay… that is a good start, but it stops short of what is right. I could be wrong, but I think the last thing Rep Weiner wants to do is accept the consequences of his actions. I think there is a very good possibility that he doesn’t want there to be any consequences to what he did. He wants everyone to just accept his apology, and get back to “more important things.”
But there is a problem with that. Actions have consequences whether we like them or not. In Scripture there is a passage that helps us understand if a person is genuinely remorseful for what they have done. In this passage the difference between worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow is clearly presented. The passage is 2 Corinthians 7:10-11…
Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
Godly Grief (Sorrow)…
Produces Repentance. Repentance (In the Christian context) is turning away from sin toward God. From within the person themselves there is a repentance over their actions. It isn’t, “Now that I’ve been caught I’ll do what I can to get this behind me.”
Produces Earnestness. Earnestness is a passion that wells up within the person to correct the failure and restore things to a right condition.
Produces Eagerness To Clear Yourselves. This does not mean exoneration but rather the person themselves being willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of what it is, to make things right. This includes a person submitting to the requests of those offended in order for forgiveness to be granted because of the damage done to them. The example here is Zacchaeus in Luke 19:5-9 (He willingly… ON HIS OWN… gave half of his possessions to the poor AND those he defrauded he restored fourfold).
Produces Indignation. This is an anger a person has toward themselves for the wounds they inflicted upon God in breaking His commands AND the wounds they caused to the person they sinned against. They are angry toward themselves that they have sinned. This is not embarrassment that they have been caught.
Produces Fear. This is an emotion within the person as they realize just how prone they are to sin and that at any moment it can happen again outside the grace and protection of God.
Produces Longing. This is the person’s own strong desire to find out what it will take to make right the things that wounded others as a result of their sin.
Produces Zeal. This is a passion within the person who has failed to do whatever is required by others in order to make things right. They themselves will push and ask of others what they need to do. They do not set up what they will do to make things right.
Produces Punishment. The person from within themselves know that their actions require punishment in order for restoration to take place. Thus they submit to whatever are the consequences of their actions because they know there is merit to “An eye for an eye…”
Proves A Person Innocent. When a person has willingly followed the path of godly grief (sorrow), then it will be evident to all that they have proved by their actions that they are genuine in their repentance and as a result their credibility and reputation are restored and their sin will not be held against them in the future.
Last thought. Notice that each of these things comes from WITHIN THE PERSON THEMSEVLES (As with Zacchaeus above). The person themselves are the first to do whatever is required to make things right AND will throw themselves upon the mercy of others in doing what they require.
Unless these things are present, there is worldly but not godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow produces death: Death of reputation… relationships… trust… joy… ad infinitum.