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December 30, 2012
Live Long and Prosper
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth. (3John 1-8)
As this year draws to a close,we hear phrases like, “Happy New Year!” or “Have a happy and prosperous New Year!” It’s a nice thing to wish others well. It is also encouraging to be on the receiving end of such wishes. I wonder how often, though, when those words are offered, if either party is considering REAL happiness and prosperity. I am afraid that in in our world, materialism is generally the focus of these type of remarks. We have, as a part of God’s holy word, a letter written by John in which he wishes, even prays, for the health and prosperity of a dear friend.
Third John is written to a Christian by the name of Gaius (3John 1). Gaius was a rather common name during the days of John. Gaius may have been a common name, but this Gaius was no common man. Just who this Gaius was is not known (the name appears several times in the scriptures), but he was one held in high esteem by the author (3John 1,3,5). In this letter, John commends him for his love and hospitality. It may be, since John is wishing him prosperity, that Gaius was not a materially prosperous man (3John 2). This makes his hospitality even the more commendable. John told of his prayers for Gaius—that he would prosper.
It is clear from our text and other passages of scripture that there are two kinds of prosperity—spiritual and physical. Jesus told a striking story of the contrast between the two (Luke 12:16-21). John mentioned that he prayed for prosperity in ALL respects for Gaius (3John 2).
Prosperity in material things is good. How that prosperity may be used is another matter (Ephesians 4:28; 1Corinthians 16:1,2). While it is perfectly fine to enjoy all of the material blessings from God and to share with others who have material needs, prosperity in spiritual matters is far better. We need to be more concerned with prospering in spiritual things. Notice that Gaius was first very prosperous in regard to his soul.
Spiritual prosperity produces real joy on the part of others and is a source of great encouragement to others (3John 2-6). Gaius was happy, John rejoiced, and the church was encouraged. This is not a little matter! Physical things pass away—everything will (2Peter 3:10). Spiritual things last.
Spiritual prosperity has the best life now and eternal life in the end. “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1Timothy 4:8). It is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1Peter 1:3,4). It is a continuing relationship—
a relationship of Father and child, of Master and faithful servant (Galatians 3:26; Matthew 25:23; 6:19,20).
How can we have spiritual prosperity?
Spiritual prosperity begins by becoming a child of God: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26,27). Many think that they can stand close by Christ and prosper. Be aware, there is no spiritual prosperity to be found outside of Christ. Close doesn’t count. We are either “in” or we are “out” of the realm of spiritual prosperity.
Once we become a son of God, we can procure spiritual prosperity by making wise investments. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).
We can procure spiritual prosperity by walking in the truth. “For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.” (3John 3).
We procure spiritual prosperity by being faithful in the good things. “Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers” (3John 5).
We can also procure spiritual prosperity by loving service. “They have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” (3John 6).
We can procure spiritual prosperity by following after the good things “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” (3John 11). “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1Timothy 6:18,19)
How do you prosper? Do you seek spiritual prosperity with the same diligence you have in seeking material? A phrase made popular by the science fiction stories of Star Trek comes to mind: “Live long and prosper.” That is worthy to wish for all, but take it a step further: ”Live eternally and prosper.” Come to Jesus and serve Him. That is true prosperity.
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.