3 John 1:2
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
Whom do you regard as a prosperous man for this world? There are several elements that enter into that condition. The first, we may say, is health. Another is riches. A good name is another. A cultivated taste, well-stored and regulated mind, leisure, and fondness for reading and study, are also indications of prosperity. Now in what respects does soul prosperity answer to these elements of temporal prosperity? It must have them all in order to reach the highest prosperity. First, the soul must be in health. A healthful soul is one all of whose faculties are sound and in harmonious exercise: the eye of the understanding translucent, the muscles of will strong, the nerves of conscience sensitive; all the faculties receptive and digestive of Divine sanative truth. There are riches, too, which the soul may gather and enjoy. There are treasures attainable which are essential to spiritual prosperity. The same term which describes gathering of gold, describes the treasures of the Spirit. "The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich." It is possible for us to accumulate the "exceeding riches of His grace," the "unsearchable riches of Christ," and then "the riches of His glory." Even "the reproach of Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." If, then, you would have a prosperous soul you must have a rich soul. A good repute is also necessary to spiritual prosperity, not always in the sight of men, indeed, for the world will speak evil of you were you as holy as Jesus, but in the sight of God. And yet the world, even while it sneers and abuses, is won by a pure life. He has a prosperous soul who deserves the confidence and esteem of his fellow-men for his truthfulness, purity and benevolence, whether the world awards it to him or not. Need I say that a refined taste, cultivated by the study of Divine truth and by communion with the purest hearts and fellowship with the most lovely lives in the Church of God, is an admirable aid to the promotion and preservation of soul health? And, in fine, progress, advancement, success in holy and useful religious industries, is a mark and method of soul prosperity. If you would not call the drone and laggard, who is ever falling backward and eating up his capital and trading only upon his old stock, a prosperous man in any worldly business, how can you call one a prosperous Christian who has no religious enterprise, who satisfies himself with his old experience, and so without progress has nothing but an old stock and a diminished capital to draw upon? Thrift utilises the past, and draws it forward into the present, and pushes it onward into the future. If we look abroad into the world, we shall find that many have temporal prosperity without spiritual. Their bodies are pampered; their souls are starved. Some have spiritual prosperity without temporal. Many of God's saints are among the poor of this world, with few of the comforts and none of the luxuries which money can buy. Yet they may be such as the Lord loves and guides. Many have neither temporal nor spiritual prosperity. Not all the poor are pure within. A few have both temporal and spiritual prosperity. There are some rich men that are godly. There are more whose circumstances are comfortable, who, above want, and without dread of poverty, enjoy as much of the pleasures of living as their wealthier neighbours. And with this good measure of worldly prosperity they unite the higher enjoyments of peace with God, faith in Jesus Christ, the consolations of the Holy Ghost, and pleasant fellowship with the purest and most refined society of earth. These are they who give power and beauty to the Church, and whose whole existence is benefit and blessing to the world. This is what St. John prayed for Gaius — earthly vigour and resources corresponding to the sincerity of his piety. If your soul. health were brought into correlation with your bodily health, how would it be with your soul? The body, in many cases, becoming like the soul, would be transformed from strength and soundness into weakness and sickliness. The subject teaches us that there is often a want of harmony between an inward character and our outward circumstances. The rich in this world's goods are often very poor in godly wealth. God's favour they improve in all secular business, and lay up for themselves treasures on earth. God's grace they neglect and ignore, and lay not up within themselves treasures for heaven. There are thus discords in human nature which the gospel is given to harmonise. Oh! do not consent to remain more rich or prosperous in worldly than in spiritual treasures.
(J. L. Burrows, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.