Gaius – A Rich Man

The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:1,2

Someone said to me recently, “Mwita, I pray that you may get a car!” and I laughed, sort of the way Sarah laughed, because truly nothing is too hard for the Lord. Now, if you live in Africa you might understand how sometimes owning something as simple as a car might need a miracle equivalent to Sarah’s!

The person who told me this was troubled by the fact that I travelled too much by bus.

I laughed all right, but as I was thinking over the words of this loving friend, I remembered John’s letter to Gaius. In 3 John 1:1-2, the Apostle John writes these words: “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

The proponents of the prosperity gospel have worn out this scripture trying to prove that God wants all of His children to prosper materially. They claim that Gaius was one of the people that God had made rich; but all they have to stand on is John’s “wish”, or prayer!

Has it ever occurred to you that Gaius might have been a poor, needy brother, but one with a generous heart? It is not mentioned if Gaius was a rich man or a poor man. What is clear, however, is that Gaius was a generous man.

As a matter of fact, we could say with some conviction that in order for John to make such a prayer on behalf of Gaius, the latter most likely needed that prayer!

The Macedonians were not rich either, but they were generous. Presumably, the same situation applied to Gaius. There is no other reason for John to “wish” for Gaius to prosper and be in good health if Gaius was a rich man. It would be like stating the obvious.

Besides, there is no guarantee that simply by John “wishing” (or praying) for Gaius to prosper, that he would. God might have needed to keep Gaius a poor man for other purposes. The church today has been erroneously taught to believe many things concerning God’s provision, but we cannot limit God to what we think. We must be scriptural.

What the above scripture states, and which is of far greater significance to us, is the fact that Gaius was a spiritually prospering man. The Bible says clearly, “…even as thy soul prospereth.”

But it is not just that the Bible states that Gaius was prospering in his spirit; but the fruits of this prosperity are evident in the generosity he showed in ministering to God’s people. This heart that Gaius had – those are the true riches.

The Apostle John must have felt the heavy burden that Gaius was bearing in ministering to the saints, hence his prayer for Gaius to prosper materially. He knew many saints would benefit from Gaius’ ministry.

It is highly unlikely that when Gaius was going about his labor of love that he would have been looking for material returns for his kindness. Being the righteous man that he was, he was content with his physical state and would most likely have been beseeching God for a spiritual blessing.

A man who expects to “reap” in the natural is a carnal Christian. There is nowhere in the Bible where we are encouraged to have such a mindset. That is a carnal mentality, not a spiritual one.

A spiritual mindset is one that looks to the future, into the things of the Spirit. That is why the Bible says, And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). You don’t see a car mentioned there, do you? Nor a 3-storied house. There is nothing of this world in that scripture. Notice that Paul is talking of things that will abide. These are the things that the Bible encourages us to seek after.

I must end by asking my readers to not think that by using the above example I was in some way trying to compare myself with Gaius. Not by the longest shot! These were men against whom I couldn’t come up close to, spiritually speaking. I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to so much as put the soles of my feet on the same road that such men walked.

True Prosperity

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:2

In today’s fast-track and materialistic-minded world, it is an uphill task for even the Church to know what is what.

The scripture above is one of the most used by Christians today and yet, when you listen to its application in most of the cases, you will find it has been grossly misrepresented. Without going into any deep theological arguments, did you notice that the Apostle John takes it as a given that Gaius’s soul is already prospering. John’s letter would not have been so upbeat and positive if Gaius’s soul had not been prospering. After being assured of Gaius’s soul’s prosperity, John felt so happy and energized that he could now pray for any secondary needs that the man of God might have had, including his material prosperity and his good health.

In other words, this scripture above all shows us that with God the first and most important thing is the prospering of our soul. Material prosperity and good health come a long way after.

It is interesting when in a prayer meeting you mention that someone is sick and they need our prayers, you find people very concerned. But if a brother or sister is not well spiritually, it does not appear to be too much of a deal. In fact, much of the time, it is like people are not sure how to deal with the matter – such issues appear far removed from them.

‘Oh,’ we think, ‘the pastor will deal with that.’

In even some cases, such a need provides material for people to talk behind a fellow brother’s back.

But mention sickness or any need that touches directly on the body (finances, or even someone travelling – people will bind every small demon that may be camping along the road that brother or sister is going to use); here people know exactly how to deal with the enemy. Many of the most profound prayers I have heard have been crafted around praying for such needs.

But we as born-again believers need to realize that the thing we need to make sure about is the welfare of our soul. We need to make sure and doubly sure that our soul is well and prospering. We will pray God for our health and material needs because we need them here on earth; but they are not that important. (I hope I am not rocking somebody’s boat here!)

Many years ago, when I was working in the secular world, my life was controlled by how much money I had in my pocket. If I found my reserve shrinking below a certain level, I would feel the fear begin to rise within me. I would try to suppress it but it was more powerful than my faith.

‘What will I do now?’ I would ask myself.

Accordingly, my spiritual gauge would plummet and I would find myself worrying and agitating.

I wonder how many times we wake up and we feel the need that today I want to look after the welfare of my soul. How we need to make sure we are constantly doing something that profits our souls, like feeding ourselves on the right gospel, praying, fasting, even sharing the gospel with someone.

My pastor, Amas, always tells me, “Mwita, if I spend a day without sharing the gospel with someone, that day I sleep a poor man!”

Maybe that is why some Christians are having bad dreams at night! My advice to such brethren: try sharing the gospel with someone and see whether you will not sleep like a baby!

Many Christians wake up in the morning and they know exactly what they need – for the body, that is. Two eggs, scrambled; a cup of coffee, toasted bread, etc. That is for the Westernized world, mostly.

In Africa, a big bowl of hot porridge, two or three boiled sweet potatoes; and for those who can afford it, beef or goat soup! Then we are ready to begin the day.

Nothing wrong in all that, except that if after we have thus filled our bodies we find we have no idea about what to do for our souls, then there is a problem. May God help us!

Let us take time, energy and everything else that we have to make sure our souls are prospering.

Yes, we can even use our money and material wealth to prosper our souls by giving to the poor. There are some rich Christians who call the poor lazy. This is a big insult to God because the Bible says that if you lend to the poor you lend to the Lord; which means that God recognizes and respects the poor as they are and He puts Himself on their side.

Human pride, Bwana!