Good Sorrow VS Bad Sorrow – Living Without Regret

Good Sorrow Vs Bad Sorrow - Living Without Regret - 2 Corinthians 7:10

Good Sorrow Vs Bad Sorrow

At the time of this writing, the new year is knocking at the door. Many people are beginning to look at their lives to evaluate the successes and failures they’ve had this year. The goal, of course, is to prepare a magic list of resolutions that will make the coming year the best yet.

Unfortunately, a lot of those same people are going to get a good old fashioned gut-punch of regret. I wish I could have… I wish I wouldn’t have… and, I probably should have…  In today’s post, I want to bring some light to the two sorrows.  Good Sorrow vs Bad Sorrow

The Two Sorrows

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. – 2 Cor. 7:10 NLT

Most people don’t even know that there are two types of sorrow. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to call them Good Sorrow vs Bad Sorrow. Understanding the difference between the two sorrows and being able to successfully identify them is key to living a regret-free life.

In 2 Cor. 7:10, the apostle Paul says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” These are the two sorrows.

Good Sorrow

Good Sorrow is the love-motivated awareness that our actions, our inaction, or our intentions have caused pain or hurt.

Good Sorrow is the love-motivated awareness that our actions, our inaction, or our intentions have caused pain or hurt. We feel good sorrow because we care. We genuinely want the best for the people in our lives, and when we wound them somehow, we feel sorry.

The fact that it originates in love causes ‘good sorrow’ to produce positive change in our lives. When we see that out of control spending is hurting our family, good sorrow motivates us to start budgeting. When we see that anger is causing our co-workers to avoid us, then good sorrow motivates us to apologize and work to avoid the outbursts.

Good Sorrow will only produce good results in your life. It will fuel your desire for change without overburdening you with regret and shame.

Bad Sorrow

Where good sorrow is motivated by healthy love, bad sorrow is motivated by unhealthy condemnation, guilt, and shame.

Have you ever been caught in the act? I mean have you ever just been completely busted for something you most definitely shouldn’t have been doing? Or, have you told yourself never again, only to find yourself in the same harmful situation again?

Bad sorrow is different from good sorrow because it originates in guilt and shame.  Where good sorrow is motivated by healthy love, bad sorrow is motivated by unhealthy condemnation, guilt, and shame. Bad sorrow is the big ugly finger that’s pointing in your face calling you a failure.

Because bad sorrow forces us to avoid the underlying issues, it results in an ongoing accumulation of error and condemnation.

Because bad sorrow originates in condemnation, it produces a fight or flight response. We either become angry and brace for a fight, or we become defensive and run from our perceived accusers.

Because bad sorrow forces us to avoid the underlying issues, it results in an ongoing accumulation of error and condemnation. This sorrow eats away at the very spirit within us like a cancer and eventually brings a type of death to that area of our lives.

The Point of Good Sorrow vs Bad Sorrow

The point of this post is to help you look at the areas of your life where you may be feeling overburdened with regret or remorse. If your sorrow has led you to a place of apology and growth, without causing your to feel hopeless, then it is probably a good sorrow and is bringing healing into your life.

However, if your sorrow feels like an unbearable burden on your shoulders weighing you down to the point where you can’t even move, then you’re probably dealing with an unhealthy version of sorrow that has the potential to cause much more pain in your life.

Here are three quick tips for dealing with Unhealthy or Bad Sorrow:

  1. Identify the Source – If you made a mistake, then admit it and accept responsibility. If you didn’t make a mistake, then admit that too and stop accepting responsibility.
  2. Apologize Whenever Possible – One of the greatest sources of healing in our lives comes when we apologize to those we’ve wounded. (even ourselves)
  3. Ask for Forgiveness – Even when people refuse to forgive us, God greatly desires to forgive us for all our mistakes, and receiving that forgiveness ushers us into a life free of destructive regret.

It’s okay to feel sorry from time to time. It just means that we care about the people around us, and we happen to not be perfect yet. It isn’t okay to let guilt and shame rule your life and drive you further and further into a destructive cycle.

There’s so much that could be said on this topic, and I hope that if you have a question or a thought regarding good sorrow vs bad sorrow that you’ll take the time to post a comment below. If you’re battling this, leave me a comment or send me a message. I’m happy to pray for you because I know this can be a significant hurdle to overcome.

Love In Christ – Jeremy

About the Author

Jeremy BinnsWhen I'm not trying to save the world from the coming zombie invasion, I love my wife, hug my daughters, write, photograph, listen, observe, explore, and worship.View all posts by Jeremy Binns →

  • adrian wright

    Can I use this to teach?! Wow good stuff!

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns

      Sure. Thank you.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

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