Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2, NASB)
I have read 3 John numerous times but never noticed this verse before. What a great perspective! What a memorable description of far more life: a prosperous soul!
We work hard to prosper in many areas of life and to have good physical and mental health. But how much attention do we pay to the prosperity of our soul? We may attend church, pray, read our Bibles, attend Bible study, serve in the church, and do other good works. But these activities may or may not lead to a prosperous soul. They can be soul-feeding connections with God that fulfill and energize us. Or they can simply be habits, obligations, or items to check off our to do list.
What is a prosperous soul? Other Bible versions translate 3 John 2 as: strong in spirit; doing well spiritually; progressing spiritually; it is well with your soul. A prosperous soul is consistently experiencing (and sharing) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A prosperous soul is growing in understanding God and becoming more like Him. A prosperous soul is far more life.
When someone asks how we are, imagine if we answered based on the condition of our soul:
“I am having wonderful fellowship with God today!”
“I am praising Christ for all He has done for me!”
“I am expectantly waiting for God’s best in some areas to become evident!”
“I am having a hard day but trust Him to keep all His promises!”
“I feel disconnected from God.”
“God’s promises feel empty and meaningless.”
“I am struggling to walk in the fruit of the Spirit.“
“I am angry with God.”
In many situations, those would be awkward responses. But it is refreshing and life-changing to be self-aware and open with trusted brothers or sisters in Christ. I have a good friend who regularly asks, “How are you doing spiritually?” I confess that sometimes it is tempting to answer “Fine,” and change the subject. But I know she is offering me a precious gift! Sharing the condition of our souls helps us prosper by living out Paul’s instruction to the Philippians:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV)
This Scripture passage was read at my wedding and has challenged me many times to get my heart right toward God and my husband! Being open about the prosperity — or lack of prosperity — in my soul has benefitted me and our relationship. It has helped me maintain far more life. And enabled us to have a loving, Christ-centered marriage.
A prosperous soul is the foundation of a healthy life. When our soul is healthy, we keep everything else in the perspective of eternity. It reminds me of the promise in Matthew:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)
“All these things” are covered in the preceding verses: life (what you will eat and drink) and clothes (what you will wear). At a minimum, when we are investing our lives in God’s kingdom, He will supply our basic physical needs. But this promise is attached to a command found a few verses earlier:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25, NIV)
The command that produces a prosperous soul and healthy life is, “Do not worry.” When we replace worry — mental distress resulting from concern for something anticipated — with trust that God already knows our needs and is prepared, willing, able, and planning to meet them, our soul prospers. And we gain far more life.
Worry is based on a faulty belief about God and our position before Him. It robs us of far more life. Perhaps we can recite multiple Bible verses about God’s faithfulness, love, provision, and our righteous standing before Him. But some part of our mind does not believe it. Some experience from the past planted a seed of doubt that Satan has watered and fertilized to keep our soul from optimal prosperity. Thankfully we are not stuck with that lie. We can expose it by exploring our negative emotions and the reasons behind them until we discover the false belief and replace it with God’s truth. (To learn a systematic method for this, read the post “New Master”, published October 29, 2020.)
What keeps your soul healthy? Your spiritual diet and exercise choices!
He refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:3, NIV)
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)
Choose what goes into your mind and heart: connect daily with God and His word; engage meaningfully with other believers; pursue pure entertainment and recreational options. Also engage in the disciplines that promote spiritual growth: regular praise and prayer; capturing false or harmful beliefs in obedience to Christ; blessing others by using your spiritual gifts. When you recognize your soul is unhealthy — not experiencing the fruit of the Spirit — confess it and do the heart work needed to get back on track.
Every day can be a prosperous and healthy day for your soul. A day of far more life!
Do you focus more on your prosperity in life, your health, or the state of your soul?
How would you describe a prosperous soul?
What is the condition of your soul right now?
What spiritual diet or exercise practice would improve the health of your soul?
Thank God for enabling you to improve the prosperity of your soul today and embrace far more life!
Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso