Read 2 Corinthians 7
Focus on verse 10
Whenever I hear someone say “good grief” I can’t help but think of Charley Brown from the Peanuts comic strip. Yesterday the topic was living an oxymoronic life, and if ever there was an example of an oxymoronic life in the comic world, it would be Charley Brown. Most often things would not go the way he planned them, and he would respond with his classic “good grief!”, yet by the end of the episode he somehow always rose above the perceived failure.
In today’s reading Paul writes about the difference between “good” grief and senseless grief.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (v. 10)
Apparently there is a sorrow or grief that leads to bitterness, which leads to death, as well as a sorrow or grief that leads to being saved from death. I suspect the difference is not so much the nature of the emotion, as it is our response to it.
Let me pose a hypothetical example. Suppose George and Bill are teenage friends who get caught by Bill’s dad smoking weed behind the barn. (Assuming this takes place back in the days before smoking weed was legal) Bill’s dad tells George’s dad and both boys get the same punishment for their misdemeanor. The only difference is that George has a good relationship with his dad while Bill hates his dad. George is genuinely sorrowful and resolves that he will never again smoke weed because he knew how much it had hurt his dad to have to reprimand him for it.
Bill is also sorry he got caught, however, this incident just makes him angrier at is father and he resolves to carry on smoking week and maybe worse, making a mental note to be more careful about not getting caught.
Both boys were sorrowful, both experienced grief, but only George was moved to repentance.
The Apostle Paul speaks much of his love for the Corinthian believers and how it grieved him to have to exhort them in regard to their behavior. It would seem from the context of the chapter that because of this relationship that he had with them many were motivated to genuine repentance and voluntarily changed their behavior.
The same is true of the way people respond to God. If we do not feel the love of God or have no relationship with Him, we respond with resentment toward His exhortation, and it drives us further from Him toward bitterness and death. On the other hand if we experience His love through the body of Christ (the church) our response to His exhortation motivates us to repentance and life.
There is a huge difference between good grief and senseless grief. Perhaps the next time we hear someone say “Good Grief!” It can remind us that there actually is such a thing as good grief and that it is a good thing to experience as it brings us closer to God