Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
Two Kinds of Grief
December 17th, 2007
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Co. 7:10
When confronted with my sin, how do I respond? Will I sink into a worldly sorrow that slowly destroys? That kind of grief wallows in shame and stems from an unraveling of the illusion that I am not really that bad after all. But isn’t that just self-righteousness, the refusal to acknowledge the depravity of my heart? A first human reaction is the attempt to pay for sin by doing some kind of penance. Perhaps if I suffer enough in self-contempt, or try to tip the scales of God’s requirement by doing good works, I can find relief and self-justification. In one of his radio programs, Steve Brown responded to a man who was in just such a condition saying, “Cheer up. You are much worse than you think! But cheer up. You are more loved than you dare imagine!” Martin Luther wrote, “Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors. The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.”
What does all this have to do with Christmas? Everything. Jesus came to save us from our sins. The only hope we have is Him, and that hope is a precious thing. The gospel frees us from worldly sorrow and brings the sweet sorrow that leads to a change of heart. I am sobered again by the sinful tendency of my own heart, yet breathing a sigh of relief that the gospel is indeed true. Broken people need a perfect Savior. Hallelujah for such a Savior!
As my pastor admonished, will you join me in spending some time this season, allowing the Lord to ‘wound’ and to ‘heal’ our hearts, to the end that this next year will be a year of greater faith, love, obedience and change?
Have a blessed Christmas