GODly Sorrow ~ What does it do?
Let’s look in detail at the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke the 15th Chapter. The son, in his ignorant arrogance thought he was ready to live life according to his own rules. He asked his father for his share of the inheritance. Life as we know it delivers one inheritance from a parent if they have been blessed to store up some earthly treasures to pass on to their children. As far as the prodigal son knew, this inheritance was all he would ever receive from his father’s hand. Still, he was sure that he was ready to live his own life. His father showed how much he loved the son by granting his foolish request. Just as most parents who know their children well, this father must have felt extreme sadness by the request, but because of the love, he complied.
Children can make some very strange requests of a parent. They may come to a point when they say, “Leave me alone.” “Let me go.” “I am ready to be an adult.” “I don’t want to be your child anymore, I am out of here.” If that child is an adult, as much as it might grieve us, we don’t have a whole lot of choice and we have to let them go. This is the position the prodigal son put his father in.
Scripture tells us that the son took his inheritance, left his family behind and went out and lived exactly how he chose. He did what he wanted, when he wanted and as often as he wanted. He had no one to hold him accountable for his choices. Those poor choices brought ruination to his monetary inheritance and then life happened. Ironically, just as he frittered all his money away, famine struck.
Now that combination would send most of us straight to our knees in repentance, but not this man. First, he was still only concerned for himself. He needed to survive and that driving thought drove him into working for a pig farmer. The thought of stepping into that pig pen would have sent the rest of us into repentance, but not this son. Pig farmers do so by choice and God Bless Them! I love bacon! But for someone who has lived “above” it all, this seems like it should have been a wake up call.
How long he worked in the pig fields before coming to his senses, we don’t know. What we know is that he was so hungry, he actually wanted to eat the food being given to the pigs but was refused. That is really pitiful. It was during this moment in his life that scripture tells us he realized an amazing thing. That the very job he held right now as a servant would have paid better at his father’s house. This is his moment of truth.
GODly sorrow will always be preceded with a moment of clarity about where you are physically and spiritually. You have to see both. You have to know not only how far you have wandered from the Father’s house but how many bridges you have burned along the way. Your moment of GODly sorrow comes when you realize all of your decisions have been willful and arrogant and wrong. This is the moment that brought this son to his spiritual knees and provoked him to the realization that he needed to make things right.
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” This was his plan. This was what he determined in his heart to say to his father. The Bible does not tell us whether or not the father ever lectured his son for his choices at the time. What we do know is that the father accepted him back with open arms and a party was held to celebrate the lost being found, the dead coming to life. When it comes to what the father may have said or done in private? We know this, “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:8-11
We recognize GODly sorrow in our own hearts because of what it drives us to do in making things right. I believe when GODly sorrow, (which is brought about by God, with respect to God and that leads to God) comes to you, it will drive you to complete repentance. When we are really sorry for the chaos we have created in our lives and in the lives of others, what is one of the first things we say? “What can I do to make this right?” We look for that discipline from others. How many times have we repented to God and said, “Lord, show me what to do”. We expect and accept censure when we are truly repentant. I want to be disciplined when I am in error. Yes, it hurts, but it produces a harvest of what? Righteousness and peace.