The ministry of John & Bron Fergusson
© JF Ministries, Auckland, New Zealand. Registered charity in England and NZ.
Have you ever said you forgive someone, but the relationship is still broken? Why? Perhaps we haven’t really forgiven them? What if they haven’t changed their attitude?      Some years ago our neighbour’s dog killed some of our sheep. Even though the dog has been put down, they still deny it. I say I’ve forgiven them, but we don’t talk much today. So have I forgiven them, or not?      In Numbers 13, Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land. Ten returned with such a bad report, the terrified Israelites wanted to return to Egypt. The Lord was so angry, he said, “I will strike them down with a plague!” Moses interceded, pleading the Lord to pardon them.       The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked.  Nevertheless… not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:20-23).      Forgiven, yes, but they still suffered the consequences. Therefore, forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. In fact, it’s just one part of the process.

The seven steps of restoration

When we are wronged, our initial reaction is anger. When we found our sheep dead we were upset, then furious. We wanted revenge. “Kill the dogs! Pay for the loss!”      But what if the boot had been on the other foot? Some years after the genocide, we lived in Rwanda during the Gacaca (pronounced ga-cha-cha) Community Courts, a traditional initiative to bring reconciliation. It begins with confession, or recognition of wrong.      The next stage of the process is regret: “I wish I hadn’t done that,” or “I wish that hadn’t happened.” Regret accepts the wrongdoing, but it’s not the same as repentance. King Saul regretted chasing David “like a partridge in the mountains”! “I have sinned,” Saul said (1 Samuel 26:21). Judas regretted betraying Jesus―being seized with remorse (Matthew 26:3), but he never repented.      Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). The feeling of peace follows. It’s a choice to leave the perpetrators in the hands of the Lord, rather than seeking vengeance. We release them into the Lord’s justice programme, which is far better than ours! He knows their motives and his plans for their future. How dare we interfere! The Lord is also gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and quick to love. He’ll sort it. Release them!      Then we come to repentance, which is a firm decision to change direction. “I was travelling this road, but it’s the wrong way. I will turn around and take the right road.” It’s much more than recognition of wrong; it’s a determination to change.      Whenever we read about John the Baptist, the Scripture also implies his message, which was repentance. John came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe (John 1:7). Therefore it is through repentance that all men believe. John also said, “He is the one who comes after me” (John 1:27), meaning Jesus comes after repentance! Again, John said in verse 31, “the reason I came…was that he might be revealed…” Repentance reveals Jesus. While we follow the world, that is what we see; when we turn to Jesus, we see him. Repentance must come first.      The next stage on our road to restoration is restitution. Having repented, we now want to make good our wrongs. A British friend once led a violent motorbike gang in Australia. Back in UK, he became a Christian, and then returned to Australia to find and repay those he’d harmed or robbed. Touched by his change of heart, many refused restitution and accepted Christ.      And of course the final stage of our journey is full reconciliation, the desire of the Lord for all of us, not only with him, but with each other too. Thank the Lord he’s made the way possible through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus.      And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. If you are not yet a Christian, we implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).      I HAVE forgiven our neighbours. The restoration process is ongoing.

Have I REALLY forgiven?

 JF Ministries
John & Bron Fergusson
Have you ever said you forgive someone, but the relationship is still broken? Why? Perhaps we haven’t really forgiven them? What if they haven’t changed their attitude?      Some years ago our neighbour’s dog killed some of our sheep. Even though the dog has been put down, they still deny it. I say I’ve forgiven them, but we don’t talk much today. So have I forgiven them, or not?      In Numbers 13, Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land. Ten returned with such a bad report, the terrified Israelites wanted to return to Egypt. The Lord was so angry, he said, “I will strike them down with a plague!” Moses interceded, pleading the Lord to pardon them.       The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked.  Nevertheless… not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:20-23).      Forgiven, yes, but they still suffered the consequences. Therefore, forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. In fact, it’s just one part of the process.

The seven steps of restoration

When we are wronged, our initial reaction is anger. When we found our sheep dead we were upset, then furious. We wanted revenge. “Kill the dogs! Pay for the loss!”      But what if the boot had been on the other foot? Some years after the genocide, we lived in Rwanda during the Gacaca (pronounced ga-cha-cha) Community Courts, a traditional initiative to bring reconciliation. It begins with confession, or recognition of wrong.      The next stage of the process is regret: “I wish I hadn’t done that,” or “I wish that hadn’t happened.” Regret accepts the wrongdoing, but it’s not the same as repentance. King Saul regretted chasing David “like a partridge in the mountains”! “I have sinned,” Saul said (1 Samuel 26:21). Judas regretted betraying Jesus―being seized with remorse (Matthew 26:3), but he never repented.      Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35). The feeling of peace follows. It’s a choice to leave the perpetrators in the hands of the Lord, rather than seeking vengeance. We release them into the Lord’s justice programme, which is far better than ours! He knows their motives and his plans for their future. How dare we interfere! The Lord is also gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and quick to love. He’ll sort it. Release them!      Then we come to repentance, which is a firm decision to change direction. “I was travelling this road, but it’s the wrong way. I will turn around and take the right road.” It’s much more than recognition of wrong; it’s a determination to change.      Whenever we read about John the Baptist, the Scripture also implies his message, which was repentance. John came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe (John 1:7). Therefore it is through repentance that all men believe. John also said, “He is the one who comes after me” (John 1:27), meaning Jesus comes after repentance! Again, John said in verse 31, “the reason I came…was that he might be revealed…” Repentance reveals Jesus. While we follow the world, that is what we see; when we turn to Jesus, we see him. Repentance must come first.      The next stage on our road to restoration is restitution. Having repented, we now want to make good our wrongs. A British friend once led a violent motorbike gang in Australia. Back in UK, he became a Christian, and then returned to Australia to find and repay those he’d harmed or robbed. Touched by his change of heart, many refused restitution and accepted Christ.      And of course the final stage of our journey is full reconciliation, the desire of the Lord for all of us, not only with him, but with each other too. Thank the Lord he’s made the way possible through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus.      And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. If you are not yet a Christian, we implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).      I HAVE forgiven our neighbours. The restoration process is ongoing.

Have I REALLY forgiven?