Thrive and Be in Health
Do you believe that God wants you to thrive in life and enjoy good health? Then, be very glad, because He says that He does. We will examine this simple passage in detail later, but for now enjoy the beauty of this promise which shows us something wonderful in the heart of God, being spoken to us through Jesus' "beloved" disciple, John.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 2
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
We may still be a long way off from that lovely, longed-for stage of the journey, but at least we can know with assurance that our God wants these good things for us down the road. On the other hand, perhaps this is a thing that you do not yet know with assurance -- deep down where it counts when problems come and refuse to leave. Many believers certainly hope that God wants them to thrive in life and enjoy good health, but they are not so sure. Lots of everyday realities seem to contradict that hope. Even our internal reality (sinfulness) argues against it being for us. For somebody else maybe, but for me?
That's the problem with hope: It is kind of squishy. It can give way when trouble comes. At those times, we need something rock solid to base everything on. In the face of disease or disaster, if I am going to have bright hope, if I am going to stay confident in God, if I am going to let my feelings float upwards into joy, then I want to be absolutely sure that I am believing what God wants me to believe. Otherwise, it may not come true. For that kind of assurance, He has given us His Word. His Word is our Rock of Refuge. His Word will never change or fail to be true.
The Dynamic Power of Faith
Actively believing His Truth to be The Truth sets our hearts free no matter what we face, and that internal freedom draws the hoped-for future to us. Such faith releases us to work with Jesus following His lead, or rest before Him trusting in His promise. Either way (usually both), we can hold bright hope and confidence in our hearts because we know we are believing what our Lord wants us to believe, not some pipe dream of our own imagination (or someone else's). In this way our soul -- our interior life -- gets to thrive in life no matter what's going on. Even poor health can't keep us from enjoying this place of refuge: This is the true prospering of our soul.
This next step is so important: Fully believing the right truth in any "wrong" situation releases our hearts into a level of faith-trust that not only protects our emotions, it also brings God's solution to us. That is a true win-win! We are saved by grace through faith. This means that whenever we get the faith "right," the saving work of God and His grace flows so much more freely and powerfully. A liberated and lively faith unblocks the channels of blessing like nothing else. The same level of faith that releases our hearts into hope and joy, is the same faith that becomes the "substance" of what God uses to bring His saving work our way.
A word to those who may feel weak in believing these things. Even if our faith is low, our God will still be for us and keep working on our behalf, so don't despair. Just go to work on your faith level, knowing that He will work with you to bring your believing back up to the place where your heart is released. The goal is always to have bright hope, confidence in God and joy moving around on the inside with room to breathe, right? That way we can enjoy our life and relax in Jesus' embrace right now. We don't have to scrunch up our insides and hold our breath until His solution arrives. The peace of Christ is always available. We only need to meet the requirements: trusting God with all He has (so far) allowed and being willing to do anything He may ask. Once the peace returns, joy, bright hope and confidence in God can show up also.
With our soul prospering, we are ready to advance the kingdom into other areas of our life. Or, we could say that once Jesus sees that we are yielded to Him in believing faith, He will turn the situation towards the long-for solution. As Hannah Whitehall Smith wrote in "A Christian's Secret of a Happy Life," God will use the situation to work on us, until we yield to Him in trusting faith. Then, He will go to work on the situation. Quite an incentive, isn't it? Yet, the intention is that we learn first and foremost to thrive in life. We can't do that if our inward life (our soul with its emotions) is being constantly thrown into disarray by one problem after another. May this present crisis be the time we get take the lesson to heart. Let's listen again to our main text this time in the New King James:
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 2 NKJV
Because this is scripture, we can trust that John is praying in alignment with the heart of Jesus under the leadership of the Holy Spirit who is inspiring him. John (and by extension our God) wants us to prosper in all thing and be in health, "just as" our soul prospers. By this we see how important the prospering of our soul is to the Lord. As much as He desires us to enjoy health and success, He wants it, not in place of our soul prospering, but because of it. The prospering of our soul includes living with bright hope, confidence in God and the peace and joy of the Lord in our hearts--always and in any situation. This would not be possible without faith and grace, but because we are given all things freely in the Beloved, such a life is not only possible for us, it is expected of us.
One of the amazing things that our modern medical science shows us, is the intimate, powerful relationship between the things in our soul and the health of our body. Our souls are definitely not prospering when they are burdened with a thousand cares. Things like unforgiveness, resentment, anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, regret, shame and depression really crowd out the peace of Christ and annihilate the joy of the Lord. In fact, every negative emotion we could name is recognized by our bodies as a stressor that throw our immune and hormone systems out of whack. Just about every "incurable" disease (think heart disorders, cancers, gastro-intestinal trouble, etc.) either originates with stress or is compromised by it. It turns out that our bodies were designed to operate optimally with peace and interior freedom within us. James may not have known that fact, but the Lord does. Hence, the priority He places on our soul prospering.
Having seen what soul prosperity means, what other kinds of prosperity are promised to us by this passage? John, after all, is praying that we prosper "in all things." Does this mean that God wants us all to be rich? This is the unfortunate, mis-guided belief that has been pressed upon the Body of Christ by some people in the "prosperity movement." To be fair, many saw themselves as combatting a crippling "poverty mentality" which made some believers think that God wanted them to be impoverished, or that succeeding in life was somehow not a proper goal for a Christian. Pushing out of that ditch, propelled the movement at times into the one on the other side, by taking a position that God wanted everyone to be wealthy and that it was somehow unspiritual if you weren't. A balanced life is in the middle of that road: Don't cling to poverty and don't grasp after wealth. Do the right thing because it honors the Lord, not in order to get rewarded by Him with riches.
The irony here is that the prosperity movement used this passage from John as their standard bearer: "John says that God wants us to prosper financially!" True, the passage clearly states that God wants each one of us to prosper and to our modern ears that almost always means material wealth, i.e. money. Be that as it may, the word prosper only appears if you are reading the King James and similar translations. For many of these ministers, the King James was the Bible of choice, sometimes of exclusive use. Other versions, however, translate John's prayer differently. Here is the same passage in the New International Version, which like the quoted above, doesn't use the word prosper at all.
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. 3 John 2 NIV
How can we account for this discrepancy? Languages are living things; their meanings change over time. It just may be that the scholars of 1611 had a different connotation in mind when they reached for the word prosperity to fit this passage. Whatever the case, the words in the underlying Greek text do not have any direct connection to wealth at all! The actual Greek word is compounded from one that means "well done" and another that means "a road, a journey, a progress" towards a desired end. The compound word means to receive "help on the road" and to find "success in reaching" one's destination. That certainly can carry a secondary meaning of picking up some financial success along the way, but clearly the main idea is moving along well on the path that God is calling you. Who wants that? All of us, probably. Yet, who would be so crass as to say, "My goal is to get lots of money, so help me God!" Few, one hopes.
We are, thankfully, on obvious and solid ground with it comes to our hopes for healing and health. There can be no doubt that this passage expresses God's heart that we "be in health." Every translation carries this meaning, loud and clear. In one translation after another it is prosper (the tricky part) AND "be in health," or "be healthy" (the clear part). The Greek word being translated means "to have sound health, that is, to be well (in body)." How could it be otherwise? Anything less than full health is something less than prospering physically, every single time. It is wonderful to see that the Lord is entire agreement with our logic, at least on that point. (Or maybe we're just in agreement with His.)
Happily, there are many other passages to reach for in scripture which declare God's desire to heal us, in addition to this one. (See Scriptures for Healing.) Still, if you want to memorize one passage and take your stand upon the Rock of God's Word, this could be the one for you. Use it to defeat every doubt that God may not be interested in your healing or is in some way unwilling to see you healthy. Crush those errant thoughts with the truth! Believe this powerful promise with a full heart of faith. It will uphold your spirit, liberate your soul, and draw grace to faith with salvation's power released in your life.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 2
Next Healing Essential
Dis-ease and Disease Our modern medical science has brought forth a landslide of evidence that emotional stress (dis-ease) is the culprit causing most, if not all, of our diseases. We don't like either one, but we invest more energy and money in trying to drive out disease, than in seeking to live free from stress. Jesus has the answer to both.
pdf Healing Essentials (43-page eBook)
pdf Thrive and Be in Health (this article)
Interested in Going Deeper?
Consider taking our free eCourse for Healing. We have designed a complete series for personal transformation, "Matters of the Heart," to help Christians gain emotional freedom and inner healing. In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!
 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." John 20:2 and: Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" John 21:20
 In His worst moment before the cross, Jesus bet His life on God's Word being true and prayed that we would also learn to the same thing. It is called being sanctified by the truth, because belief in the truth pushes out unclean things like fear and worry: Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 MKJV
 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 MKJV
 He will keep anyone in perfect peace (the peace of Christ is perfect peace), IF we trust Him enough to fully surrender to Him and stay (rest) our heart and mind on Him. This means trusting Him with what He allows and trusting Him enough to do anything He may ask: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
 We have been given "all things" necessary for life which we receive through believing what God has promised us about who He is and what He intends to do for us. This level of believing enables us to "partake" of His nature and live in His joy and peace in any situation, just as He does: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4
 Strong's G2137 euodooo
 Strong's G5198 hugiainoo: From G5199; to have sound health, that is, be well (in body); figuratively to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine): - be in health, (be safe and) sound, (be) whole (-some).