My Uncle Gary gave me a book titled Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easterfor Christmas. One of the readings, on the topic of sorrow, from a couple of weeks ago has stuck with me. It was written by Henry Drummond. Here’s an excerpt. He is discussing types of sorrow over sin:
“The one has to do with feeling sorry over some wrong or sin we have committed. This feeling seems to provide a sort of guarantee that we are not disposed to do the same wrong again, and that our better self is still alive enough to enter its protest against the sin our lower self has done. And we count this feeling of reproach, which treads so closely on the act, as a sort of compensation or atonement for the wrong.
In this kind of sorrow, however, there is no real repentance, no true sorrow for sin. It is merely wounded self-love. It is a sorrow over weakness, over the fact that when we were put to the test we found to our chagrin that we had failed. But this chagrin is what we are apt to mistake for repentance. This is nothing but wounded pride–sorrow that we did not do better, that we were not so good as we and others thought.”
I find this very convicting. When I feel sorrow over my failures, what is the motivating factor? Am I truly repenting, or am I simply annoyed at myself and my weakness? The Apostle Paul writes in II Corinthians 7:10 (NIV): “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” He goes on to discuss the responses that should follow sorrow: earnestness, eagerness, alarm, longing, and readiness to see justice.
May my sorrow be pure.