I grew up as an only child, so I had no competition at home. I did, however, have cousins I saw frequently at my grandma’s house. Until I was 10, all my cousins were girls, so we had lots of arguments. My grandma was always determined we were going to fix it, so she did what many from that generation did – she made us say “I’m sorry!” Then she followed up with, “Don’t say it unless you mean it.” The truth was that I wanted to go back to what I was doing, so I told my cousin I was sorry just to speed up the process.
How many of us do that with God and others, even in our adult life? I would say the vast majority of us. How many of us are truly sorry when we mess up, hurt someone, or violate God’s standards? My wife and I recently had a discussion with the kids about being sorry. One confused to only being sorry because he got caught. While we aim for his heart being broken over sin, we appreciated the honesty. I have encountered so many who have been overtaken by sin, and the only reason they were sorry was because they got caught and could no longer delay the hurt their reactions would cause others.
What does God have to say about sorrow in relation to sin? Second Corinthians 7:9-11 says this: “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” Godly sorrow leads to repentance – a change of mind that results in a change of behavior.
Is there any sorrow in your life today? Are you sorry because of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Or are you sorry you got caught? If you answered yes to the latter, admitting it is the first step to correction. Let God have access to the selfishness in your life and produce some godly sorrow in you.