8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:8-12
I’ve never known a distinction between godly and worldly sorrow. One leads to salvation while the other leads to death.
You can see worldly sorrow in the news frequently. Some politician will be caught in a lie or scandal and the apology goes something like this, “I apologize if anyone was hurt by my actions.” It’s the non-apology apology. The person wasn’t sorry for anything except that he got caught.
Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is heartfelt and sincere, and the person is deeply concerned that his actions have hurt people. He tries to restore the relationship by any means possible. In fact, the politician is glad he got caught because he is now free from hiding from it. By his actions he has repented and is mending his ways. Now, this doesn’t always lead the person to salvation, but it’s an example of godly sorrow.
When you see people like this in the news, pray for them. They need Christ in a desperate way. Both types of sorrow are revealing. One is close to the Kingdom as Jesus would say, and the other has yet to see Christ in a meaningful way.