2 Cor 7:4-15 chiastic structure:
1a) 2 Cor 7:4-7a, Boasting/ comfort/ exceeding joy/ no rest for the body/ Titus;
4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. 5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7a and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you;
1b) 2 Cor 7:7b, Your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more;
1c) 2 Cor 7:8, If I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it;
1d) 2 Cor 7:9a, Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry;
central axis) 2 Cor 7:9b, But that your sorrow led to repentance;
2d) 2 Cor 7:9c, For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer no loss;
2c) 2 Cor 7:10, Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death;
2b) 2 Cor 7:11, You sorrowed in a godly manner, with indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, vindication; matter;
2a) 2 Cor 7:12-15, Comfort/ exceeding joy/ spirit refreshed/ Titus/ boasting;
12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you. 13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him.
Paul’s explanation of the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow is in the context of being caught doing something wrong. He is referring to his earlier letter, 1 Corinthians, in which he had to be stern and rebuke the Corinthian church for the things they were doing wrong. This rebuke produced in them godly sorrow, because they repented of what they had been doing and corrected their ways.
This is such an important passage for parents to understand, that there are two types of “I’m sorry” when people (i.e., children) get caught. The first, most common type, is worldly sorrow. Paul says this kind of sorrow leads to death. Worldly sorrow is when people are genuinely sorry that they got caught doing something wrong, because the consequences of their actions are making their lives miserable now. They are sorry they are having to pay a price. But they are not sorry that they sinned, just that they have to pay the price. That is why worldly sorrow leads to death.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance. It is when people are genuinely sorry for the actual sin that they have committed, and they realize how wrong it is and how greatly it offends God. They experience sorrow over the intrinsic nature of the sin, whatever it is. This kind of sorrow leads to repentance; it motivates the heart to turn away from that sin and never do it again.
So how do we get our kids from worldly sorrow over their sins to godly sorrow? First of all, I believe sorrow over sins is a key to children repenting of their sins and receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior, and then keeping Him as their Savior throughout their teenage years; not only when they are 7, but also when they are 17.
But before a child can be genuinely mortified over his sins, his parents need to be genuinely mortified over sin. Parents need God’s heart and mind over what is sin and what is not; how wicked sin is and what a destructive poison it is in the earth. Sin is sin because it hurts people. Either it hurts someone else, or it hurts the person sinning. But someone gets hurt, and that is why it is wrong, and that is why we need to be mortified over it.
God is One who defines sin and righteousness in the Law. There are a lot of people who read those laws, and think “That doesn’t make sense, how could that be wrong.” In fact, this is a big argument used to mainstream the gay agenda – what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home doesn’t hurt anyone else.
We have to realize that the Scripture teaches that all sin hurts someone. If God says something is a sin, then in His great wisdom, He understands how it hurts someone, even if we don’t. We need to accept that God is smarter than we are, what He says is sin, is sin; and be mortified by it. We have to have our own minds renewed first, and we must go to the Law to renew it on this topic.
Both parents and children can get God’s heart and mind over sin by keeping the Torah in the forefront of their minds and hearts night and day, just like God said parents ought to do in Deu 6 (and Psa 119 and in many other places): when He emphasized listen to, take heed, observe, and teach My Law to your children over and over again. He knows that listening and paying heed to His Law, His Torah, will get the right heart and mind in people over sin.
An example of a Torah commandment that modern society tends to ignore is honoring parents and other authority. This one is might be hard for parents to enforce because they know they are not perfect, and perhaps they feel they ought to be dishonored by their children. But the commandment is not in place to benefit the parents, but the children. It is the children who are hurt when they learn not to honor their parents, because that ultimately causes them not to honor God as adults. And fearing God, honoring God, is the beginning of wisdom. Lack of wisdom is destructive in a teen or an adult’s life, and can lead to literal death. So God has a good reason for naming all that He has named as sin, and naming all that He has named as righteous. We need to trust His word and trust His wisdom, and agree with Him.
Once we have agreed with God on sin, sorrow over sin is most quickly produced by consequences. Parents must prepare consequences for disobedience in advance. Children should know in advance what disobedience will cost them. Children knowing the cost of a sin in advance allows them to practice judging a course of action before it is taken. Parents knowing the cost of a sin in advance helps them to remain calm and in control in the heat of a crisis moment. The consequences, whatever they are, have got to cost the child. Consequences ought to be expensive enough that the child is encouraged not to risk it.
Then the consequences need to be administered so that sorrow is produced. If parents take away toys or privileges but then give them back at the first sign of tears, they have not loved their child. This is why God is a better Father than we are. He loves us enough to allow us to experience some suffering over the things we do wrong. He knows that godly sorrow is needed to produce true repentance.
Some children are so challenging in this area, because nothing the parent does seems to produce sorrow. The parents must persevere in this until they find what works for their individual children. Pray and seek God’s face! He knows what is needed. But whatever the parents decide to do, the goal is to produce godly sorrow in the children over their sin.
Different children come to sorrow differently. One strong- willed child might need a major thrashing from Dad, while for another soft- hearted child, a stern look is enough to produce all kinds of godly sorrow in their hearts. What works for one child might be way too harsh for another child and completely devastate their heart, and vice versa. Contrary to what my mother told me as a young mother, we can’t treat all our children the same (sorry Mom). Some kids have greater or lesser needs in different areas. The goal is, as parents, to meet their needs, whatever it is, including the vital need for discipline and godly sorrow leading to true repentance.