How do you respond when someone says to you “I am sorry”? Most of the times, if we have not been severely impacted by the apparent offence, we may quickly respond, “That’s OK”. Other times, when the action or inaction has weighed heavily on us, it is much more difficult to respond in this manner. It just simply is not OK! And, as far as we are concerned, it may never be OK.
“It’s OK” is another one of those little statements that can have a tremendous impact on our interpersonal relationships, as well as our relationship with the Lord.
It may be unrealistic to expect that every time someone offends us, and apologises, we would freely respond, “Oh, that’s OK”. Saying, “It's OK” to a situation that has caused significant emotional trauma, is obviously not an easy task, despite how sincere the apology may appear to be. However, we must understand that just as we have looked at the need for genuine repentance, there is also a need for genuine forgiveness. Being able to come to a place — emotionally, psychologically and spiritually — of genuinely saying “it’s OK”, signals our intention to let go of the issue and move on.
It does not in any way mean that it is OK to be abused, ill treated, hurt or taken advantaged of. It is not OK for others, especially those who have significance in our life, to wilfully cause us pain. That is not OK. But having faced circumstances of this nature, we are prepared, in spite of how difficult it may be, to forgive the offender, allow for healing, bring closure to the situation and move on.
A good friend of mine, David L Johnston, Pastor of King of Kings Christian Church in Jacksonville Florida, outlines the evidence of unforgiveness to be: anger, bitterness, resentment and vengeance. Once any or all of these remain alive in us, regarding a specific situation or person, we know that the process of forgiveness has not yet been completed within.
Genuine forgiveness is the end product of an individual truly erasing the wrong that another person has done to him or against him. It is an internal position that God requires us to adopt and maintain. When Peter asked Jesus how many times must he forgive an offending brother, Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 1822). In what is referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, we are told to ask God to forgive us our debts as we forgive your debtors (Matt. 6:12). Our Lord further elaborates on this point saying, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14,15). So it seems as though there is a reciprocal effect to us forgiving others.
When the process of genuine forgiveness is complete, we would no longer be angry, bitter or resentful toward the offender and we would no longer desire vengeance or revenge for the wrong that was done to us. It is only then, we can safely say it is OK. We can, possibly, further clarify by adding, “I accept your apology”or better yet, “I forgive you”. Genuine forgiveness is a gift from the heart that we all, one day, would desire to receive. In this context, “It's OK” truly is OK.