By Jerry Fite
Do you want to be liked by the majority? Do you desire to be known by others as sophisticated and broad-minding? Is “doing your own thing” without condemnation from others your utopia? If so, you probably have already seen the assets of the “I’m OK – you’re OK” philosophy. Experience teaches us early that the less severe we are in judging others, the more we are liked. The critical, fault-finding grouch heads few lists of ideal companions. Expediency seems to dictate that we never condemn the actions of others. Is not such silence the best way to insure the acceptance of our own ways? “Live and let live,” or “I’m OK – you’re OK” is the modern “golden rule.”
The problem is that such philosophy will not hold up in all situations. Our sense of right and wrong cannot tolerate those who beat up their spouse and abuse their children, regardless of the personal pressures provoking such harm. A stealing employee is condemned first by the employer’s conscience before civil law is appealed to in order to fire him. Hitler murdering innocent Jews incenses us. In such cases, where is the “you’ve OK” spirit?
Many like the “I’m OK – you’re OK” approach because it allows man to be his own standard. His subjective feelings determine truth. If man is his own standard, how can one condemn the feelings of Hitler’s subordinates who felt it was right to eliminate an entire race. Who is so bold to enter the unseen recesses of the conscience, and call these men liars? In condemning conscientious actions, one becomes inconsistent with his philosophy. Because the freedom from hiving to submit to a divine standard is so attractive, many tolerate the inconsistency.
Many who acknowledge God also advocate the “I’m OK – you’re OK” lifestyle. Did not Jesus say, “Judge not that ye be not Judged” (Matt. 7:1)? Jesus rebuked the practice of condemning others by one’s own arbitrary opinion and judging others while living hypocritical lives. The Lord condemned supplanting God’s law (therefore speaking evil of the law) with one’s own by which he condemns his brother (Jas. 4:11). Jesus taught that in correcting others, one would first apply the divine standard to himself. “Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye: and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5).
Living according to the gospel will demand that we make moral judgments. Appealing to the New Testament standard, we must “Prove all thing; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). We cannot fellowship darkness, but most reprove darkness (Eph. 5:1). We do this by living according to the inspired Scriptures which provide the standard of righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 1:16-17). Sometimes reproving darkness will demand that we withdraw our social contact from a member of the church who persists in living sin. We are to “judge them that are within” (1 Cor. 5:11-12). Living according to the teachings of Christ, we must not eliminate judging, but make sure we are judging righteously (John 7:24).
Living lives which encourage peaceful relationships is commanded by our God (Heb. 12:14). Making peace is imitating our Father (Matt. 5:9). But we cannot have pace if the truth of the gospel is to be forfeited. This is why Paul said, “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
I believe that we both can be “OK”. But we must first submit to a third party – God. Let us not be upset when error is exposed to His Truth. Determining to submit to God in all things, we can initiate true progress. By proceeding with the uncomfortable and demanding process of self-examination and correction, we can know for sure if we are “OK.” “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Cor. 10:18).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 17, p. 524
September 6, 1984