Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:18-19
Choose Godly Sorrow over Worldly Sorrow
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). There is godly grief and there is worldly grief. Paul goes on to describe what godly grief produced in the Corinthians: “See what earnestness…what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!” Godly grief hurts badly, but it makes us zealous to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and make things right as best we can. Godly grief calls for the courage to take one’s lumps, and then go out and testify to God’s great love even in the midst of severe discipline. On the other hand, worldly grief refuses to be held accountable. It either wants to forget the whole matter, thereby letting the heart grow hard, or wallow in self-pity and loathing, which in a perverse way makes the person feel better while never resolving the matter by bringing it to the Lord and offended parties and asking forgiveness.
In the case of Judas, worldly sorrow led to despair. We all have sins in our lives we wish we could forget; sins of our youth, recent sins, sins that make us cringe when we look in the mirror, perhaps sins we can’t seem to stop committing. In Judas’ case, he brought on the death of an innocent man for a few pieces of silver. He realized what he had done. He repented in the sense that he changed his mind about what he had done, but he was unchanged in his heart. I am reminded of David, who was also responsible for killing an innocent man after committing adultery with his wife. But when confronted, and faced with the punishment of his sin (the death of the baby and the future trouble that would come upon his house), he didn’t take his life. He first prayed for the life of the child. And when the Lord took the child anyway, David still did not despair. What did he do? He cleaned himself up, went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
David was a man after God’s own heart not because he was perfect, but because he always ran to God and repented. Judas ran inward, away from God, and could only feel despair. I’ve done this as well. The worst thing you can do when you have sinned a great sin is to get lost inside your own head. Yes, there will be consequences but it is better to pay them than to fear them, and it is better to confess and make things right, if one can, than to beat oneself up to no good forever. Despair is lack of faith in God. God is a God of life. I personally feel a kinship to Judas, and am very sorry for him.