How do I know that he/she is getting better? This, or something like it, is the question that mentors, sponsors and counselors get from those that are partnered with highly compulsive people such as addicts. These partners are most often spouses, but could be a parent or a business person.
Most of those who are in recovery will admit that it was their actions that got them there. There are some in recovery from losses where they were on the wrong end of someone else’s actions. Either way, what we are about to look at is true. God says this:
Gal 5:19-21(a) – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
Those of us who have stepped out of denial will admit that some of these words in the scripture above described our behaviors, or the actions of those who have hurt us. For those still in denial, look at the last phrase of this piece of God’s word.
Having established that all of us in recovery are affected by a past that included many of these deeds of darkness, we can now address the original question. In the same general passage of scripture (Gal 5:16-26) we see God’s answer and we see how this answer can be true. The answer to “How can I know he/she is getting better?” is this:
- The fruit of the Spirit will be evident and growing in abundance.
What is the fruit?
Gal 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
What we see in a person is that the nine pieces of fruit are becoming more evident in a recovering person’s life. For example, a person will be becoming more patient or more loving with those around them. Not drinking or not looking at pornography or not flying into rages does not provide evidence of recovery; they are all good things that can be managed, but they don’t signal real change. The fruit of the Spirit cannot be managed as it can only become evident when a person is allowing themselves to walk by the Spirit.
Walking by the Spirit (from Gal 5:25) is what the scriptures encourage us to do if we truly desire to overcome the sources of the deeds of the flesh listed above. All walking by the Spirit, also called living by the Spirit, means is to do life God’s way.
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is! All of us in recovery, from rookies to veterans, ought to remember this daily. We also ought to tell others who are struggling with things that there are answers in God’s word, and the key is to walk with the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit in us will be the evidence of our own recovery to them.