Every fruit begins as a flower, but not every flower will bear fruit.
Fruit is produced through growth. The growth of the flower is dependent on certain variables such as the weather which it does not have any control over. And if any of these variables are lacking the flower will either not produce any fruit or produce fruit of lesser quality. Unlike a flower however, we have control over our growth and whether we will bear fruit.
“How do I know if he has truly changed” is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions by an abuse victim who has left an abusive relationship.
It was that question which plagued me day and night as people, especially Christians, encouraged me to reconcile. “Forgive as Christ has forgiven you; forgive seventy times seven; God hates divorce; it’s not so bad” — and on and on it went.
I cried to my counselor, “I cannot and will not return to what was!” He would have to change, but how could I truly know he was changing?
The answer was and is fairly simple…
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. ~Galatians 5:22-23
“…live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.” ~Galatians 5:16-17
But what is there if there isn’t any fruit?
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the life. I warn you…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ~Galatians 5:19-21
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit…” ~Galatians 5:16
It’s really pretty simple — you cannot live by the Spirit and have freedom through Jesus Christ yet continue to live in sin. A person cannot continuing being abusive and also bear fruit because sin does not allow for growth.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” ~Galatians 5:1
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” ~Galatians 5:13
“Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” ~Galatians 5:24
If you, dear reader, find yourself asking the question of how you can know he’s changed, ask yourself another question — Do I see fruit?