3 John, verse 2:
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”NRSV Translation:
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.”Amplified Bible:
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and (that your body) may keep well, even as (I know) your soul keeps well and prospers.”The Message paraphrase:
“I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health-that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul!”In this letter, John is writing to Gaius, a church leader, to commend him for his hospitality and to warn him about not following the lead of Diotrephes who is only concerned with himself. This verse is used a lot when talking about the Prosperity Gospel that is preached in some circles. God wants you rich, God wants you to have that Cadillac, they tell you. Well, hold on a minute! What is supposed to prosper the most? If you read the entire verse, what truly matters is that your SOUL prospers! Things and good health are not guaranteed. They are hoped for, but what matters most is how well does your soul prosper?
I thought about this as I thought about all of the individuals making resolutions for the New Year. Many are health related, such as lose 20 pounds or quit smoking or exercise more. Good ideas that are usually out the window and forgotten by March. Not because they were not well intentioned but because they were not so convinced that it could be done in the first place. Things that had happened in the past proved that they just couldn’t do it. As far as resolutions go, I don’t think I have ever heard someone say “I am going to work on making my soul prosper.” Maybe we should consider making that kind of resolution.
In the Wesley Study Bible the notes say that 3 John shows that both evil and good can be found within a congregation. “Gaius…. supports the elders understanding of the Christian Mission by making his resources of home and money available to itinerant Christian ministers. Diotrephes, on the other hand, serves himself by seeking to undermine the elder’s influence in refusing hospitality to these missionaries and preventing those who want to help from doing so.” The Message paraphrase says this: “The two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God. More often than not, the mess people make of their lives can be traced to failure or stupidity or meanness in one or both of these areas…there are always people around who don’t want to be pinned down to the God Jesus reveals, to the love Jesus reveals. They want to make up their own idea of God, make up their own style of love.”
If you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense that how well you are on the inside “the soul” correlates to how well you are on the outside. What you carry inside of you will manifest outwardly. Your idea of God or love will show up in some manner. So, perhaps we should consider what we are carrying around inwardly first before we make those resolutions for outward change. Maybe the first place to start is getting rid of some of the inward baggage. Still angry at someone? Still nursing an old wound? Still feeling like the victim? Still making the excuse that you do certain things because you were damaged or hurt by what (insert name here) did to you twenty years ago? Whether we like to admit it or not, old baggage from things that happened that we can not change, can and will weigh us down. Bad things happen, even to good people. It’s what you do with it that matters! If it simply is a weight around your neck than it is not doing you or anyone else any good! It’s time to let it go. It is time to choose to love yourself like Jesus loves you and it is time to love others in the same way. No more my style, it’s time to choose Jesus style!
So here’s a suggestion. Take all of those things, those issues and write them down. Make a list. Then take the list and burn it or shred it beyond recognition. Make sure you can not tape it back together no matter how hard you might try. Commit to turning it over to God and then commit to letting it go. Don’t take it back again. If something comes up in your mind again say to yourself “I already let that go and turned it over to God” and then move on to something else. I know, it is easier said than done but I also know that it can be done.
It is much easier to move forward and create new good positive feelings and memories when you let go of the old negative ones. It is easier to accept love when you let go of those things that you think make you unlovable. It is easier to love others when you can learn to love like Jesus loved. How does your soul prosper? May it prosper well!
May your everyday affairs prosper as well as your soul prospers in 2012!