2 Corinthians 7:8-9 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
Paul seems to rethink what he is writing in v. 8. His intention was not to write in such a way that brought pain or sorrow to the Corinthians. He seems to be referring to an earlier letter known as the “painful letter” that he wrote at some earlier point. This could be our 1 Corinthians or some lost letter. His motives were right. He wanted to see them change. Sometimes there has to be tough love to get someone to change. His letter may have been a shock to the Corinthians but it was necessary. Paul was sorry it if it came across in the wrong way but he was not sorry for the positive changes it brought.
This letter had its intended effect of causing the Corinthians to grieve to the point of repenting. The relationship of grief and repenting is significant. Repenting requires some sorry for sin. Without this sorry, people are reluctant to change their ways. Such grief takes sin seriously. There are different types of grief. Grief that comes from God is intended to help us awaken to the relative and danger of sin. This could be labeled as the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If a person does not head this godly grief, this person may continue down the road of ruin and eventual condemnation.
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