III John 2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
So how does the soul prosper?
To answer that question we need to understand the biblical difference between the 3 aspects of humankind: Body – Soul – Spirit
Isaiah 43:7 … for I [God] have created him [man] for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
(For further research, please see the chart in this post entitled “Formed, Made, and Created”)
The body was formed by God from the dust of the earth.
The soul was made when God breathed life into Adam in the beginning.
The spirit was created in us by God.
The body is our physical being, our skin, organs, bones, and all of the other parts of our bodies that make us human. When we die, the body returns to the earth from whence it came.
The soul is the life within the body. Soul is inextricably tied to our breath life. Our soul life begins with our first breath when we are born and ends with our last breath when we die. Biblically, it refers to the entire experience of being human. Contrary to popular belief, soul is NOT the same thing as Spirit.
Spirit is given by God when someone becomes born again (Romans 10:9-10) Unlike our bodies and our soul life (breath life) which end at death, the gift of holy spirit cannot be taken away and does not end. (Hebrews 5:9, I John 5:11, Titus 1:2) God’s gift of Holy Spirit to us is eternal and cannot be lost.
We were created for God’s glory.
In this teaching we will be focusing exclusively on the “soul” category. This is the physical life we understand with our 5 senses.
How does our “soul” prosper?
Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
God wants us to acknowledge Him as our source of wisdom, strength, and riches. Without Him, the things we do are ineffective. But with Him, everything we do is dynamic and powerful.
We keep God as a priority in our lives and our labour will prosper. He can only prosper our “souls” when we are in fellowship and obeying His calling in our lives. When we are outside of the “umbrella” of God’s favor, the things we do–don’t have as much of an impact. We still get the job done but there is no abundance to it. Only God can provide true abundance and rewards.
Keeping God as our priority is a choice. It is also a constant effort. The enemy wants to steal our time, abundance, and allegiance. (John 10:10)
Those of us in the United States, just think about how we pledge our allegiance to the US flag. What does that mean? It means that we respect and honor the freedoms we have here, and vow our allegiance to the United States of America. We stand behind our country because we believe it is the greatest country in the world!
Likewise we pledge our allegiance to God who created this country, the world, the universe, as well as everything and everyone in it…. and we keep His calling as a priority in our lives.
How do we prioritize our lives around God, rather than fit him into our lives? An example is told of a glass jar being filled with items to represent how we spend our time:
A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, “Really,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?” They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, “The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the ‘small stuff’ that fills our time, like watching TV or running errands.” Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”-Author Unknown (multiple attributions)
God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If we treat God as an afterthought like the sand or water then we are only filling Him in whenever it is convenient. If we see God as one of the large rocks and make living His Word as the highest priority in our lives, then everything else we do will be blessed.
Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith [believing] it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
What happens when we diligently seek God?
Matthew 7:7-11 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
As we seek God our needs are abundantly met. He opens doors for us and makes a way where there may be no way from our point of view.
Matthew 7:9 – Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
This refers to a large stone that was used to hold down stacks of flatbread that they ate in biblical times. It would take the shape and color of the bread over time and would have even looked like a loaf itself. A father would not give his son a rock instead of bread.
Matthew 7:10 – Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
Many people were fishermen in biblical times. Often they would catch all kinds of critters in their nets including water snakes or eels. A father wouldn’t give a serpent to his son instead of a fish for food.
Matthew 7:11 – If ye then, being evil, [having human nature] know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
As good as a father is to his son, or as good as we are to our families and one another, how much greater is God the Creator who provides all of our physical needs!
All it takes is a full and complete trust in Him.
Psalm 37:3-7 – Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Let’s put our trust in God the Creator and He will bless our lives. As born-again Christians, we are complete in Him: Body Soul and Spirit.
Our “soul” is everything that pertains to our lives here on earth. This includes our bodies, our health, our family, our friendships, our work, our homes, our material possessions. All of these categories and more are blessed when our “soul” prospers by the knowledge and application of the Word of God.
Our soul prospers as we keep God first in our allegiance and priorities. We acknowledge Him as our source of strength!
From a teaching in August of 2009 [brackets indicate my comments]
All scriptures from the KJV version of the Bible unless otherwise noted “Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand” attributed to various authors, author unknown