Ray Stedman, a 20th-century evangelical minister and author, once shared a true story about a Houston man who received a letter from a popular international ministry seeking support for their broadcasting.
The ministry embraced a “health and wealth gospel” stating that since God can’t be out given, He will give back to you if you contribute to their cause. They figured if everyone who listened to their broadcast would send $76 their goal would be met. Furthermore, the letter promised that God would return their offering three times over.
The clever Texan wrote back saying, “Sir, I believe what you have written; I believe it is true that God cannot be out-given, and I believe you have a tremendous need for funds. But I would like to suggest that you send me the $76 and God will give it back to you three times over. You can raise your funds a lot faster that way.”
The “health and wealth gospel” is a sham. A perversion of the gospel. And propagated by twisting certain scriptures pertaining to prosperity. However, today’s Bible reading reminds us that God does care about our physical health and material prosperity.
To his friend, Gaius, John penned, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).
The wording of John’s expression for Gaius’ prosperity is unusual. He prays that he may enjoy physical health and material gain just as much as his soul prospers. Most people get that reversed.
We’re concerned about good health. Type in “health” on Amazon.com and you’ll find over 100,000 books on the subject. We’re constantly reminded by the media of the need for proper sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy diet. And don’t forget to take your vitamins.
The slew of success books on the market all speaks to some common themes if you want to prosper. Be positive. Set goals. Work hard. Dream big. Be persistent. Invest wisely. And live on less than you earn.
However, what about spiritual prosperity? Who’s talking about that? Who’s doing a year-end assessment of their spiritual worth? Who’s taking a spiritual inventory?
What about the health of your soul? And spiritual exercise? Spiritual strength? Spiritual fitness? And spiritual well being?
Furthermore, how healthy would you be if your physical condition was in direct proportion to your spiritual shape? How wealthy would you be if your material prosperity directly mirrored your spiritual prosperity?
Just like good physical health and material success are dependant upon specific, predetermined steps, so also is our spiritual health. In this text, John mentions some factors that undoubtedly contributed to Gaius’ spiritual health and prosperity. And will help you and me today.
Gaius “walked in truth.” Truth was “in him” and evident to others in his obedience. Faithfulness and fidelity to God’s Word was the foundation of his life. He was a good example to fellow Christians and non-Christians alike. He cared for people. Served them. And extended hospitality. His reputation was well deserved because it exemplified his true character.
Warren Wiersbe offered this complimentary assessment of Gaius’ life. “Gaius not only received the truth and walked in the truth, but he was a ‘joint worker’ who helped to further the truth. We do not know what his spiritual gifts were or how he served in the congregation, but we do know that Gaius helped extend and defend the truth by assisting those who taught and preached it.”
To enjoy spiritual health and prosperity, you don’t have to be a preacher, pastor or public Bible teacher. You don’t have to be a 5 talent person. Or be a big financial contributor. Or travel abroad on mission trips. You can be like Gaius. Stay in your home town. Love God. Embrace truth. Live godly. Serve others. Partner with God’s ministers. And joyfully do what you can do.
How’s your spiritual health? Are you prospering spiritually?
Could I pray this prayer for you? “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman