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.