Recently a guy said to me, “Lewie, what is wrong with me? I am doing the very things I swore I would never do!” His dad later asked me, “What has happened to my son? I feel like I don’t know him anymore.” A dramatic change in your disciple’s behavior is probably not as sudden as it appears. Though hidden for years a root of bitterness buried in the secrecy of his heart will eventually manifest its fruit in his life.
While young your disciple can manage his bitterness and keep it at bay. But as he grows older he accumulates more hurt and disappointment that if not dealt with properly moves him towards a tipping point where the bitterness overwhelms him and takes over his life. Even his future is now controlled by his past hurt.
There is an agenda behind all bitterness. Your disciple targets his bitterness with precision. A son or daughter knows exactly what will hurt and disappoint his mom and dad, as any student knows the values of his school, and a parishioner understands what will get the attention of her church. The bitter person uses this knowledge as a means to either get the attention of another, to seek revenge, or to cause a person to pay for a wrong done.
Some closing insights on bitterness and forgiveness:
- Not only will it frustrate your disciple but it will also be futile to try and get him to change his behavior before he understands how to forgive those who have hurt him.
- You will need to partner with your disciple as he confronts his past because fear will hinder him from facing his hurt and disappointment.
- All bitterness is ultimately directed towards God. (More on that later.)