Teaching Your Disciple How to Forgive #3

Most people are unaware of their bitterness. As a parasite keeps itself undetectable to its host so bitterness eludes your disciple. Together you and he must diligently search for the bitterness in his heart because if not dealt with properly it will destroy him.  Oh, he may live to an old age but his inner-man will shrivel up, harden, and contaminate those around him. Bitterness in never confined to the individual, it is an infectious disease that will adversely affect others around him as told in Hebrews 12:15, “ …that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” It will devastate his marriage, family, and friendships.

One reason that a person is unaware of the bitterness in his life is because of his misconception of the characteristics of bitterness.  We tend to think of a bitter person as cantankerous, resentful, hateful, and negative. Your disciple compares himself to those he considers bitter and is convinced that though others may be bitter, he certainly is not.

I have found that the best way to ease into the topic of bitterness is by having my disciple tell me his life story. I begin the process by having him draw a timeline of his life on a piece of paper.  Over weeks we build the timeline as he tells me of the events of his life from birth until the present. As your disciple tells his story you are listening for the hurt and disappointments no matter how young he was at the time or how seemingly insignificant the incident.

A couple of insights about bitterness:

  • For many the years immediately after college is a time when they struggle with bitterness. (I will explain more in a later post.)
  • Bitterness has the intent of revenge aimed toward a particular individual or organization.
  • Whenever you find bitterness you can usually uncover a disappointment.

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