The Genuine Path to Forgiveness: Breaking Free from the “It’s OK” Illusion

We’ve all been there. Somebody wrongs us, offers an apology, and we respond with the age-old, almost reflexive, “It’s OK.” While this might seem like the polite thing to say, have we ever stopped to consider what message we’re really conveying? Especially as followers of Christ, it’s essential to explore the true nature of forgiveness and why saying “It’s OK” might not be the most Christ-like response.

The “It’s OK” Fallacy

Imagine witnessing a scenario at a park where a little boy, caught in the excitement of play, pushes a little girl to the ground. After a hasty apology, the parents of the girl say, “It’s OK.” In doing so, what lesson are we teaching about the complex nature of forgiveness? Are we saying that physical harm, even if minor, is permissible?

Fast forward to adulthood. A husband has a challenging day at work and takes out his frustrations on his wife and children through unkind words. He later apologizes, and she replies, “It’s OK.” But is it? Such responses give a veneer of forgiveness without delving into its deeper, transformative essence.

The Heart of True Forgiveness

True forgiveness isn’t a mere transaction or a quick brush-off. It is a profound act that goes beyond surface-level sentiments. It entails recognizing the other person as a child of God, deserving of love and grace, even when our human instincts may suggest otherwise. It also calls us to be aware of our own imperfections and our need for God’s mercy.

When we respond with a hasty “It’s OK,” we dilute the transformative power of forgiveness. In doing so, we allow the person who wronged us to escape without confronting their actions and potentially perpetuating a cycle of harm.

A Lesson from The Cross

Even in His moments of agony, Jesus didn’t say, “It’s OK.” Instead, he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The people who crucified Him were not excused for their actions, but they were offered a path to forgiveness. Jesus distinguishes between forgiving someone and condoning their actions, and so should we.

Beyond the Easy Answer

The implications of saying “It’s OK” can even impact our views on the concept of forgiveness itself. If we have been taught that forgiveness implies pretending that nothing happened or that the actions were acceptable, what happens when we are confronted with deeply grievous wrongs? Are we equipped to navigate the waters of genuine forgiveness, or do we find ourselves caught in a tidal wave of confusion and bitterness?

The Way Forward: “You’re Forgiven”

When someone apologizes, let’s consider responding with, “You’re forgiven.” This phrase might feel uncomfortable, and yes, it demands more emotional and spiritual labor from both parties. However, it also mirrors the work that Christ did for us on the cross. By responding in this manner, you’re not just giving lip service to forgiveness—you’re living it out in a way that aligns with the teachings of Jesus.

So, the next time you find yourself at the crossroads of forgiveness, dare to choose the path that leads to true reconciliation and healing. Offer a “You’re forgiven,” not just an “It’s OK,” and witness the transformative power of genuine forgiveness unfold in your life.