In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

St. Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Here we see two choices—salvation or death. This is a common theme in the Scriptures and the writings of many of the Church Fathers; there are only two ways a person can go in life—towards God (and life and salvation) or away from God (towards death). God’s desire for all mankind is salvation; “God desires not the death of a sinner but that he turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). The whole goal of the Incarnation, of the life and the work and the death and resurrection of Christ, is our salvation, our reconciliation with God, the healing of our humanity so we can be with God. So in the passage we’re considering, St. Paul discusses sorrow, and he tells us that there are two types of sorrow, one that leads to life, and one that leads to death.

Worldly sorrow, the sorrow of the world, produces death. Worldly sorrow is centered on ourselves. Unfortunately, this is the sorrow that we’re the most familiar with—we’re sorry because we got bad grades, or that we failed to achieve something we really wanted, we’re sorry because we got caught, or because we don’t have something we want to have. Worldly sorrow is something we feel all the time, feeling sorrow for ourselves for some reason. All of these manifestations of grief, of sorrow, are self-centered. They come from pride, we’re sorry because what or who we think we are wasn’t properly expressed in some specific situation. Our pride is hurt. But this sorrow leads to death; it was pride that led to the Fall in the Garden, and from pride all death enters the world. This type of sorrow has nothing to do with God.

On the other hand, there is godly sorrow, St. Paul calls it. The sorrow that leads to repentance, and then, salvation. Godly sorrow is not just feeling bad for our sins and our failures; feeling bad about something doesn’t mean that we’ll actually do anything to change it. Godly sorrow is the grief we feel in our hearts because by our lives and by our sins we’ve caused God grief. As we say in the Pre-Communion Prayer (Prayer 1), “I have provoked Thy goodness (I’ve forced God to show me His kindness and mercy) by transgressing Thy commandments and not obeying Thine ordinances.” St. Paul defines godly sorrow as indignation at our sin, fear of death and separation from God (not sadness that we might loose Paradise, but that we might be separated from God), strong desire to strive for better, zeal for godliness. Godly sorrow is brought about by a deep awareness of our sins, and an understanding of what it means for man to be cut off from God by sin. This type of sorrow leads us to repentance—the force of this grief is enough to actually help us change our lives, change directions (this is the definition of repentance, anyway).

As Christians, we’re called to live in a state of constant repentance. St. Isaac the Syrian writes, “This life was given to you for repentance, waste it not in vain pursuits.” We’re called to live in a state of repentance—this doesn’t mean always feeling bad about ourselves, but rather it is a state of continual turning to God. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and we will sin. What do we do with ourselves after we sin? Do we feel a bit bad, and then move on, or do we sorrow with godly grief, and with determination strive to never fail in that way again? This evening we’re reminded by St. Paul that we’re to sorrow over our sins, repent (turn away from our sins), and a life lived in this way is a life that offers us salvation. Remember, in everything we do (school, work, families, hobbies), we do all things for the glory of God, making use of the abilities He’s blessed us with, and giving thanks to God for all things.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!