NO GREATER JOY
3 John 2-4 NKJV
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
No, this devotional is not a tribute to my wife Joy. Although, in my mind, it's appropriate. This is a reference to something that gave the apostle John the greatest joy.
Verse two has both blessed and tripped up people in the body of Christ for years. On the one hand, we have the people who stopped with verse two and made it the most important Scripture in the New Testament. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but many have latched onto this verse in a big way.
On the other hand, we have the people who believe there is some other meaning behind John's message, and this verse can not be referencing God's will for His children.
But looking at these verses in context, we get a bigger picture of what John is communicating under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This short book is a personal letter to Gaius, whom John considered one of his own spiritual children. There was a relationship involved here, and John was rejoicing in what was evident in Gaius' life. Gaius was walking in the truth. The truth of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The truth of walking in the God kind of love. The truth of the freedom and strength that is available in Christ. Gaius was walking in the truth, and because of this, John was rejoicing.
So John, as he was praying for Gaius, was asking God to prosper Gaius in all things and for him to be in health even as his soul prospered. Gaius was doing well in his inner life, and John wanted him to do well in the natural outward things also. And that would make perfect sense for someone you cared about.
As a pastor, I understand what John is talking about regarding spiritual children. I feel that way toward the people in the church. It's not about me trying to take the place of any natural parent, but there is a spiritual connection that is difficult to explain but very real. I have a desire to see people walk in truth. To receive Jesus, walk in fellowship with Him, and have a dynamic living relationship with the living God. What gives me the greatest joy is to see people come to Christ and then grow as believers.
However, my care does not stop there. I also desire for God's people to do well in all areas of their lives. I want people to prosper in their careers, finances, and relationships. I desire to see people live healthy and strong in their bodies and in their minds. It hurts me to see cancer, sickness, and mental illness dominate God's people. I would not want any kind of poor health for my three natural children. Why would I want that for my spiritual children and those that I care about?
John's greatest joy was that people walk in the spiritual truth that is in Christ. Spiritual life, health, and strength are the most important. But this is not an either-or situation. We can walk in the truth and light of God's Word, and we can prosper and be in health in all areas. It's good to note that soul prosperity, doing well in our inner life, is connected to our outer well-being.
Any time we relegate a group of people under a label, we narrow down our own perspective. Many negative things have been said about the so-called health and wealth gospel. And certainly, some is warranted. But having personally experienced both poverty and sickness, I would not wish that on anyone. What gave me hope in the middle of those awful limiting circumstances was the belief that God was big enough to lift me out. And He did, and I am forever grateful.
One of the things I love about Jesus is that He always left people better off than He found them. And He is still the same today.
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your care for all of my being. I desire to walk in Your truth in every area of my life.