Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.1 John 4:18
Our Personal Garden
Imagine with me for a moment that you just bought some property in the country and in the backyard is a garden. There are countless rows of garden beds filled with rich soil that have already been tilled, prepared to receive seeds. There are these beautiful signs on each bed describing the plants intended for each space. You walk down the rows and see a bed for tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cabbage, and so on. You notice that each bed was designed to nurture a specific plant, and to the right at the end of the path there is a shed. As you walk in you see shelves packed with every kind of seed. All the tools to cultivate this garden are in the shed, and there is a sheet of paper that tells you when to plant each of the seeds and when to harvest.
You start planting each crop at the opportune time, watching and waiting for them to grow. Then one day you see something different growing in some of your garden beds. It isn’t what you planted. It is a weed, a bindweed. If you don’t take care of this weed promptly, you know it will choke out the plants you are trying to grow in those garden beds. So, you start to implement the strategies of weeding the garden, but also find ways to create an environment that doesn’t welcome those weeds in the first place by using manure and mulch. Over time, the weeds grow less and less, and your plants begin to flourish.
This scenario is a lot like our life in the Kingdom. Consider the parable that Jesus spoke of in the book of Matthew:
“Heaven’s kingdom can be compared to a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But when everyone was asleep, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and ran away. When the wheat sprouted and bore grain, the weeds also appeared. So the farmer’s hired hands came to him and said, ‘Sir, wasn’t that good seed that you sowed in the field? Where did all these weeds come from?’
“He answered, ‘This has to be the work of an enemy!’Matthew 13:24-28
Problem, Promise, and Provision
There are seeds that God planted in your life which were designed to bear good fruit. But many of us often forget that just like in a garden, the enemy plants things in our mindset to derail the growth that God intended. Remember that Jesus came to bring life, but the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy. When you have something of value, expect the enemy to come after it. If we consider this garden scenario as a picture of our own lives, the garden beds represent promises of God for us. If each bed represents a promise, we can expect that at some point in our lives we will see that promise fulfilled and bear fruit.
According to the Word of God, all of God’s promises find their “yes” of fulfillment in Jesus. And as His “yes” and our “amen” ascend to God, we bring Him glory (2 Corinthians 1:20). These beds were designed by God for your good and welfare, but He gives you part of the responsibility in helping them to grow. So don’t be surprised or derailed when a weed shows up in your garden bed, which is just like any sort of problem that comes up in your life. God made sure that every problem you face has a promise and a provision attached to it. And it is your responsibility as a co-heir with Christ to believe the promise and provision is there for you to walk out. The enemy’s favorite weed to sow into your garden bed is something called fear. It is also known as anxiety, worry, angst, distress, doubt, and suspicion. Although it has different names, its goal is the same, to choke out the promise of God in the situation you are facing.
Do you believe that God gives you provision ahead of your problem?
Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this, he has given you magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises we can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are of the world.2 Peter 1:3-4
Moving in the Opposite Spirit
Remember that shed? It contains His provision. And what does God want you to use against the seeds of fear? The opposite. Remember that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of opposites. If you want to increase your hunger for the Word, eat more of it. If you want to be first, you have to be last. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things to shame the strong. Alex Seeley puts it this way, “It is a kingdom of opposites, and we have to learn how to move in the opposite spirit. By this, I mean acting in a way that is contrary to what is expected in our world. The Holy Spirit living in us allows us to react positively, which is contrary to the negativity coming our way. It becomes an exchange. We exchange generosity for greed, peace for stress, excellence for laziness, silence and wholesome words for gossip, and forgiveness for slander.”1 Fear is a spirit, and it doesn’t come from God. He never gives you a spirit of fear, but what does He give you? The Bible says that God gives you a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. So then how do we operate in those to send the spirit of fear away? We move in the opposite of fear which is faith.
Fear vs Faith
Fear and faith are both expectations. Fear expects the worst case scenario. Faith expects from God what is beyond expectation according to Andrew Murray. We see this echoed by Jesus when He restores the eyes of a blind man and says, “You will have what your faith expects!” (Matthew 9:29). When you come into agreement with fear, it grows. Your agreements feed the weed of fear. To move in the opposite spirit, you must forbid the fear, come out of agreement with it, and start to agree with God and His promises. This is the only way to remove the weed of fear from your garden of life. Positive thinking is great and all, but it will not remove the weed of fear. You must change your mind about who God is for you and what upgrade He is wanting to give you through the problem you are facing. As believers, we must look at problems differently than those in the world. We must start looking at those problems as opportunities to experience a new part of God’s nature. This perspective will free you of being afraid in life. It will cause you to run the race with endurance.
You were never actually promised a life free of problems. Jesus said that problems are a guarantee for all His followers. In John 16:33 He says, “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” Jesus already conquered fear for you. He put it to death at the cross. He is speaking to your heart right now, inviting you to the fullness of life in Him. Don’t resurrect the dead man/woman that died with Christ when you were water baptized. That way of “living” is gone. It passed away. You are a new man/woman in Christ. Start living like it.
Let’s pray together for our eyes to be opened to see the weeds of fear the enemy has planted in our garden.
God, let your revelation light shine upon our hearts and minds today. Show us where the enemy has planted fear, and teach us how to remove those weeds of fear. Teach us, Holy Spirit, how to move in the opposite spirit. Show us how to move in faith. Our desire is to cultivate this garden of life that You have for us. Give each of us wisdom to nurture those promises, as well as wisdom to receive the provision that you sent ahead of us so that we can prosper in life. Amen.
Seeley, Alex. The Opposite Life: Unlocking the Mysteries of God’s Upside-down Kingdom, by Alex Seeley and Lisa Bevere, W Publishing, an Imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2019, pp. 4–4.