Have you ever felt really badly about something you’ve done wrong? Have you ever in some way harmed another person or harmed your walk with God? Have you ever done something that you just know you should not have done, and then you realize it. And wow. You feel terrible. You just feel awful. You want to make it right. You want to hit reset. You want to make it like it never happened. You want to restore.
That feeling is called conviction. Paul calls this grief or godly grief. It’s a terrible feeling. But it’s also a great feeling, because that pain brings us to repentance, which brings us to forgiveness.
Listen to how Paul describes it in II Corinthians 7: 9-10:
“Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.”
The pain you may feel with conviction? That pain is not a good thing. But it leads to a good thing. It leads to forgiveness. It is truly a bittersweet feeling. It hurts – but it leads to greater grace.
That’s Paul’s greater point here. We aren’t just supposed to feel bad about our sins or beat ourselves up or feel like we are awful people. But we are supposed to repent. Turn from our sins. Find grace, mercy, and peace.
So that feeling of conviction is a good thing. It calls us back to God. It calls us to repent. It calls us to turn. It calls us to forgiveness. It is actually a means of grace. It is God’s grace, calling us back to himself.
Today, or any day, when you feel convicted of sin, don’t stay there. Don’t beat yourself up. That’s the grief that leads to death.
But turn to God. Turn away from sin. Turn away from things that are destructive, and find grace, mercy, and forgiveness in God. This feeling is God actually calling you back to himself.
Today, when you feel that, run back into the arms of the one who loves you most.