Summary: An analysis of what it means to have a healthy soul-life.
True Spirituality Series
Live Long and Prosper!
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
“Live Long and Prosper!”
All the Trekkies here today know those words. I don’t quite have the dexterity to give the proper hand signal. Those words became the familiar greeting of Mr. Spock, the science officer of the popular Star Trek TV series. Leonard Nimoy played that role in the original version seen on NBC in the late sixties and on reruns ever since. We learned from Star Trek that this was the customary Vulcan greeting on the planet from which Spock came. “Live Long and Prosper” were also the character’s dying words in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Those words provide a good summary for what most of would want for the New Year.
I saw a recent list of the ten most common New Year’s resolutions. Four of the ten related to health matters. Losing weight and stopping smoking topped the list. Three related to money matters. Stick to a budget and save more money were numbers three and four. The other three were to be more organized at number six, be more patient at number eight, and become a better person at number ten.
The text I read from the little book of 3 John reflects those same concerns. I think this verse would make a good outline for some worthy resolutions that all of us could not only make but keep in this New Year. John the beloved Elder and last surviving apostle of Jesus writes to advise a local Christian leader on some problems in his church. Before addressing the issue, he extends the ancient Greek version of “Live Long and Prosper.” John voices a prayer that Gauis would know true health in every area of his life. That’s what we all want. The fact that John voices such a prayer in what was possibly the last book he penned illustrates how close these matters are to the Lord and his people.
I read the prayer from the NIV earlier. Let me read it from the more literal NASB, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Here’s the truth—God is concerned about your life when you are in church and when you are not. Every area of your life matters to the Lord. Consider that fact with me as we with work our way through the three areas of life in John’s prayer for Gaius. This is my prayer for you as well.
First, I pray that you may prosper in all respects. John prays that Gauis would know prosperity and well being in all of his life—in all respects. We know little about Gaius. Maybe John knew something we don’t. Perhaps he knew something about Gaius’s personal struggles or temptations. We all have them. We all have areas where we know we need a nudge from God. I am here to tell you that God cares and he is available. Some areas of life may seem beyond our control. But no area of your life is beyond the reach of the God who loves you and gave himself in your behalf on the cross.
I’ll bet there is a few of us here today who feel like our lives are out of control. When life is like that we tend to look at the New Year with special hope. It can only get better. Right? Not necessarily! If we don’t change, nothing will change. The same actions will get the same results next year that it got last year.
Some of us probably feel like Charlie Brown. Lucy had just explained to Charlie that life is like a deck chair on a cruise ship. Some people place the chair facing the front so they can see where they are going. Some place it facing the back. They want to see where they have been. Some face it toward the ship so they can see where they are. Charlie Brown pondered the idea for minute. Finally, he said, "I can’t even get mine unfolded."
The original term for prosper mean to “go well” or to “have a good journey.” It came to be used as an expression for general well being, especially in financial affairs. John wants his friend to be blessed in every area of life. Since the next two expressions cover physical and spiritual well-being, I want to apply this first part of the prayer to that second big area of the popular New Year’s resolutions—financial health.
I won’t dwell on this area of finances today. We talked about it during our Stewardship Month in November. We still have some of the books and fliers on “debt-free living” for anyone who didn’t get a copy. It is worth your time to read and ponder the message of the book. God cares about this area of your life. Jesus had as much to say about this as about any other area of life. It matters to God. Your pocketbook and checkbook are part of your faith.