"I'm okay" has become a standard response whether or not one really is okay. "Okay" has come to mean everything and nothing at the same time.

A book was written titled: "I'm Okay, You're Okay." As I recall, the idea was to feel good about yourself, regardless of what you may have done or what situation you may face in life; and at the same time accept others without regard of anything they may have done. It was taking Mr. Rodger's to the ultimate extreme: "I like you just the way you are!"

Our society has taken the "I'm okay, you're okay" philosophy to the point where no one can ever tell anyone they are wrong. At the very least we don't ask and hope others won't tell. If someone points out a problem even in the kindest of ways they are accused of being judgmental. There are even those who would claim to be "Christians" who are embarrassed by the Scriptures themselves because of sections which command, control, condemn, judge, and give ultimatums. Yes, the Bible does say who is okay!

"I'm okay, you're okay." What a happy concept! The problem is, it isn't always true. Our society resists the suggestion that someone or something is wrong, but all societies and all religions will eventually admit that something is wrong. We may have to give extreme examples to find what some think is wrong, but none the less everyone has at least some standard out there. In fact, society cannot exist without some standards -- some things are acceptable (right) and some unacceptable (wrong).

      Ignoring what is wrong doesn't make it go away. If I'm doing wrong, I'm not "okay" just because I say so -- or even if you say so. I suppose we may both temporarily feel better by avoiding a confrontation over my guilt, but I'm am still guilty none the less. This attitude tends to feed on itself -- because you didn't confront me with my sin I won't make you feel guilty about yours. Eventually we will both recognize this and feel "safe" around each other while in our sin.

      We must decide what our life is about. If it is simply about avoiding awkward situations, avoiding ever feeling guilt, and having the praise of others, then modern philosophy is what we are looking for (and will probably find). But to make this choice is to reject Jesus who came to "seek and save what is lost" (Lk. 19:10). Lost means wrong, not okay, requiring change. Without this recognition we cannot be saved.

"I'm okay, you're not okay." The mistakes of others tend to be abundantly clear to "me," while my own sins evade my examination. This is precisely why God, not man, is Judge. Paul wrote, "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls…" (Rom. 14:4).

      Before I can even say, "I'm okay," I must do some serious self-examination. "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…" (2 Cor. 13:5). It's a tough job. We know too much about ourselves and excuses as to why exceptions should (must?) be made are easily contrived. Just as predicted, we become the man who "observing his natural face in a mirror… observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was" (Jas. 1:24). When is the last time you took a long, hard, honest look at yourself?

      Contrary to popular opinion, it isn't wrong to say, "You aren't okay" when someone is in sin. Yes, God IS Judge, but the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) -- when man shows others the word of God they are judged by God, not by man.

      Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16, 20). It isn't popular today to look at what people do and from that draw conclusions about them. No, we are not judges, but Jesus says we are to be fruit inspectors! People are not "okay" when they do wrong -- what they "do" speaks that loud and clear.

"I'm not okay, you're okay." Somewhat paradoxically, it is also popular today to put oneself down by exposing personal problems and weakness while inflating the goodness and accomplishments of others. In some ways, the "I'm worthless" attitude is a hidden attempt (even often hidden to the one doing it) to excuse wrong behavior and lack of personal growth. You might think one might try to hide this supposed inadequacy, but instead it is broadcast in hope that the pity of others will lower their expectations. It often works quite well, allowing someone to avoid even trying to change.

      Don't misunderstand me, confession to one another is an important part of our relationship and growth (Jas. 5:16). But it is not to be an excuse for lack of growth and change -- just the opposite, it is to be a means to affect perfection! Viewing self as sinful must not be a manipulation. Seeing and acknowledging the righteousness of others must not be a personal put down ("I'm not like 'him' -- see, I'm terrible!") -- it must challenge us to grow!

"I'm not okay, you're not okay." Yes, misery really does love company! Those who decide to do something they know is wrong will absent themselves from places and groups where they know they will look wrong or be told so. That means a choice is made to find and join those who either are doing the desired wrong thing or at least will approve of it. As strange as it may seem, "worse" people are often found since there is at least some kind of perverted consolation in thinking, "Well, at least I'm not as bad or mixed up as them!" In this crowd sin can be "laughed off" or excused as "everyone is doing it."

            Paul warned, "We dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise" (2 Cor. 10:12). It is time that we quit making excuses and allowances for sin in ourselves and others. We must let God say who and what is okay and submit to that. Anything else is an empty lie that will utterly fail us in the end.