“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
This is a very familiar verse in our Christian circle. It is fair assumption to state that this verse is also one of the most quoted and memorized in the Bible. This is how a Christian wish well another Christian. In other words, it is a way of saying “good lucky” except Christians are not into lucky. We are faith people. We pray for others to prosper. We pray for others and ourselves to be in good health. Good lucky is just empty words. Plus, there is no such a thing as “lucky” in the life of a believer.
The writer, apostle John, writes to this man named Gaius these wonderful words we would all embrace. But how many believers take this verse out of context creating a completely different message? No wonder things aren’t going well. No wonder they aren’t prospering. If anything, their prayers seems to be hindered. They seems to hit the wall all the time. To them, it looks like God has turned His face away. They are frustrated. No wonder their faith is weakened. When we read scriptures, it is crucial we do not take it out of context.
Speaking of taking scriptures out of context for a second. I met this girl in my early days of conversion. Lovely young woman. Loves Jesus and determined to make His name famous. I’ve never seen a young woman on fire for Christ like her. Honestly, I was jealous of her because at her age, I was in the world “having good time.” Years I lost in the world was what made me be envious of her.
This girl introduced me to another girl in DC and we quickly bonded. She told me she was missionary. She was not affiliated with any church. She just taught scriptures on streets and sometimes she rented meetings halls. It appeared to me she was forming her own church together with one guy and the girl whom introduced us.
So being hungry for the word of God, I asked her if we could do Skype Bible studies on occasions. She said yes and we were up to speed.
Our first class was odd. The introductory started with, “I am the teacher. You are student. I will teach, you will listen. No questions, no interruptions, until we finish the class which will take about four sessions.”
I was taken aback, however, I obliged. The school started. We begun with the creation, Genesis 1. Then went on jumping around verses all over the place. Before the end of session one, we had covered the whole Bible. My head was spinning. I didn’t get a thing. Remember, I couldn’t ask any questions.
We picked up more junk on the second session. She continued building up her doctrine by jumping around scriptures, taking them out of context to indoctrinate me.
By the end of lesson three, it became clear to me, this girl was dangerous. She was bad case in the body of Christ. She was not Christian. She was not saved. She was deceiving many unsuspecting. This girl searched scriptures for secret messages from God.
We took a week break between our third and forth classes. I used the time to go through scriptures she has been quoting to build up a doctrine she claimed is what will take a Christian to enter heaven. This doctrine is: “in order to enter heaven, you have to memorize a lot of scriptures,” 😳! She claimed, many professing Christians, will go to hell because they do not write scriptures in their hearts and their minds. Her justification? Jeremiah 33:31, Hebrews 8:10. She also interprets “faith without works is dead” as it means Christians need to work their salvation. That work is “memorizing scriptures.” She said, “when we meet Jesus, He will ask us to recite verses. Then may be, if He is impressed He will let us in His kingdom.”
Can you see why I had enough of this? So when we resumed our last session, I didn’t even want her to teach me anymore. I started with questions off the bat breaking her rule to not ask any questions until we finished the class.
I used her own scriptures to make the case only the difference is, I used it within the context. She could not believe what she heard me teach her.
To make a long story short, I pray that was the day the Spirit visited her and perhaps she eventually got saved. For up to that point, she was not a believer. In fact, she told me, she believed in trees, air and other things. She presumed Christianity is no different from any other religion in the world. I broke the news to her. No, Christianity is not like any other religion.
I told her the difference. She asked, “what about work out your salvation?,” taking Philippians 2:12 out of context. I said to her, lady, you are clearly memorizing scriptures without having any clue to what they say and meant.
I became her teacher that day. Every verse she quoted to me had the answer right there but she couldn’t see it so I had to show her. At the end of our discussion, she became convinced I wasn’t buying her doctrine. I was convinced she was not saved. She needed to be saved. I am convinced I planted the seed and God is making it grow. That day was the last time I heard from her. She never took my call or answer my emails again.
This experience made me wonder, how many Christians or so called believers are like her in church today?
The answer is many. I heard so many people quoting 3 John 1:2 out of context. You’ll barely hear this verse read in the context of the whole letter or even immediate verses which are clearly connected.
Verse 3 starts with a conjunction “for” showing us these two verses are connected. “For I rejoice greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.”
The truth in Gaius and his walking in the truth which made John rejoice greatly is the motivation of this prayer for Gaius to prosper and be in good health. Gaius’s soul was prospering. The proof was in the report John received about him. Other brethren testified to John that Gaius was walking in the truth.
In the context of the whole chapter, apparently, John instructed Gaius and others like Diotrephes and Demetrius, to support missionaries. He asked them to host them and provide for them whatever they need for their journey to preach the gospel to the gentiles. He assets, “receive such, that we may become fellow workers of the truth,” 3 John 1:8. Gaius followed the instructions faithfully proving the truth is in him and he was walking in the truth unlike Diotrephes.
Now, because of the truth in Gaius and his walking in the truth, John prayed the manifestation of what was inside the man to be visible on the outside. This is the cry for every genuine believer.
Most of us believe the word of God. We have a strong conviction of what the scriptures says is true. We have no doubt we will go to heaven even though the world raises objections to why we believe an old, outdated book. We never been to heaven. We have never seen Jesus yet we believe.
The problem in our faith is the manifesting on the outside what is already inside. The making of the invisible visible. That’s the heart of John’s prayer for this man.
Was John praying for Gaius to be rich? Probably, but that’s not what John had in mind based on the context. He prayed for the man to prosper in every way.
True riches is not accumulation of materials. True riches, in the context of this verse, is the ability of doing the will of God without any physical limitations but most important spiritual limitations. “I pray that you may PROSPER in ALL THINGS and be in HEALTH, just as YOUR SOUL prosper.” How good are you to missionaries if you are broke or sick or filled with unbeliefs? How good are you for the kingdom of God if you are limited by anything? How good are you for the kingdom accumulating money and toys for yourself?
Prosperity includes an ability to trust God in everything. To be the channel God uses to advance His kingdom.
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9:8-11, And God is able TO MAKE ALL GRACE ABOUND (OVERFLOW) to you, so that IN ALL THINGS, at ALL TIMES, having ALL THAT YOU NEED, you will ABOUND (OVERFLOW) in EVERY GOOD WORK. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your store of seed and will increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be ENRICHED IN EVERY WAY to be generous ON EVERY OCCASION, and your giving through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Imagine you being that believer these verses are talking about? A person who in all things, at all times, having all that you need, overflows in every good work. A person who is enriched in every way to be generous on every occasion! I want to be that person. I pray this prayer for myself all the time. This is exactly what John is praying for Gaius because Gaius got it. He was not a passive believer, he is active believer. He walked what he believed.
Is the truth in you? If so, do you walk in the truth? People wants all of God’s goodness yet they do not like His commands. They do not obey His word.
I will bring to a closing with this; what is inside of you will manifest on the outside. If you are filled with anger, anger will come out proving you are fool. The bible says, “Anger abides in the bosom of fools.” If you are prospering in the truth, the truth will manifest outside proving your faith.
You may ask, how the truth looks like? I can answer by asking first, how anger looks like? Anger looks like what we saw Adam Schiff do this week on these #impeachment hearings. The truth looks like what John stated, “doing faithfully for the brethren and for strangers.”
His prayer is for you (if you are believer of Jesus Christ) to manifesting what is in you ( the truth) and walking what is in you. He prays the goodness or truth in him expands in every area of his life including into his physical health.
That’s our verse today. You can quote 3 John 1:2 for yourself all you want but if the truth is not in you (like the girl I told you earlier), and you are not walking in the truth, you will be very frustrated for having unanswered prayers.
God is the God of order. He cannot be mocked. He had put everything in order to function exactly the way He wanted them to function. And He doesn’t change. We can’t violate God’s kindness and expect His goodness. If we do, we may still go to heaven but the journey there will be a whole a lot harder.
Happy thanksgiving 🦃🍽🍁 in Jesus name.