The prosperity gospel is usually backed using this verse: ‘Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in good health, as your soul prospers’ 3 John 2.
Yet this is the prayer Paul prayed for His friend Gaius, a man who had given hospitality and financial support to traveling missionaries. He prayed that he (Gaius) would prosper and be in good physical health to the same degree as his soul actually was prospering. This same verse was given me in a dream on the eve of the new year 2017 and I have made it my word and prayer for this year and beyond.
The gospel of prosperity has taken over the gospel of the kingdom in most churches today. If you haven’t heard this already, the gospel of prosperity purports that Christ died that we may be financially rich and sadly many have fallen for this unbiblical teaching. The reason why most (Christian) people run after material and financial prosperity. Most focus on amassing wealth, pilling thousands of dollars in banks, acquiring material things and more material things. Some work hard to acquire and stock pill but still the void never seems to be filled.
The William Webster online dictionary defines ‘to prosper’ like this: To flourish physically; grow strong and healthy.
God wants us to prosper in all things for sure. That is why He blessed man and said ‘be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it’ (Gen 1:28). But most importantly, His desire is for our SOUL to prosper first. Because our soul is the most important part of our tripartite being and prosperity in all other things depends on how prosperous our soul is. Is your soul flourishing, is it growing stronger in the word of God and in faith in Christ Jesus? Serious questions we need to ask ourselves and keep in check on a daily basis.
Notice the word of God does not say ‘…as your body prospers’. You know why the word refers to your soul? Well, my beloved, your body will return to dust where it was taken from (Ecc. 3:20) and your spirit will return to God (Ecc. 12:7)who breathe life into your body. But your soul, the seat of your emotions, the real you will one day face Christ to be judged according to your deeds while you were alive.
The Lord makes it clear that the extent to which we will prosper in ALL things is proportional to the extent to which our soul prospers. At the very least, it’s dangerous when a Christian’s material prosperity gets ahead of his spiritual prosperity. Paul warned (1 Tim. 6:9-10), “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
How many of us have strayed away from our calling and God’s plan for our lives in search of material things? How many of us have drifted away from God’s purpose and have repurposed our lives to suit our egoistic and lustful desires? Many of us a money, material, and power-hungry so much so that our souls become dead, dead to the will and ways of God. The more we desire financial prosperity without seeking first to feed, nourish and strengthen our souls – the seat of our emotions, thoughts, and actions – with the word of God, the less we will prosper in ALL THINGS. Things that are God-willed and good for our lives now and for eternity.
The characteristics of the prosperous soul
3 John 2 gives us clear characteristics of a soul that prosper and Gaius is mentioned here implicitly as someone whose soul clearly prospers as he walks in love and truth. Gaius had welcomed a delegation of missionaries into his home, even though they had been strangers to him before their visit. He had treated them “in a manner worthy of God.” When they left, he loaded them with supplies for their journey and with money for their mission work. His love was not just talk. It showed itself in treating others as he himself would wish to be treated. Being hospitable should be a norm for every Christian (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). But all believers are commanded to “pursue hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). We are to be a people “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). Biblical love isn’t ‘butterflies in my belly’; it is practical good deeds.
- A prospering soul walks in love and grows in truth. To walk in love and truth, we must accept and know the God of love and the truths of His word. We must seek to love sacrificially just as God loved us that He GAVE His ONLY son for our sake. Gaius demonstrates this love as he provides for missionaries and other brothers in the Lord testify to the fact he is walking in truth (3 John 1:2).
- A prosperous soul submits to authority. In the passage, Paul makes it clear that not submitting to authority is characteristic of a destitute soul exemplified by Diotrephes in these words “loves to be first among them” (3 John 1:9).
- A prosperous soul follows a godly example. In verse 11, John again addresses Gaius, exhorting him not to imitate what is evil (the bad example of Diotrephes), but rather what is good (the positive example of Demetrius). We as Christians need to study the life of our savior Jesus and walk in His footsteps because Christ is the ultimate example to follow.
Prosperity according to THE BOOK – the Bible
Prosperity as per the word and will of God is not necessarily to live as a millionaire, own many houses, cars, and other earthly things. True prosperity is to be rich toward God (Luke 12:21). Once your soul begins to prosper in the Lord, that is when you are considered rich. The way to that eternal prosperity is to walk in the truth and in love, to submit to God’s authority as revealed in the word of God, and to imitate godly examples. Then it may be said of you, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
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Have a prosperous week ahead friends.
Hearts & hug