Summary: John’s prayer for his friend Gaius raises an important question. How is the health of your soul? What if our bodies were in the same condition as our souls? What if we paid as much attention to the condition of our bodies that we do to our souls?
Prescription for a Healthy Soul
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
John’s prayer for his friend Gaius raises an important question. How is the health of your soul? What if our bodies were in the same condition as our souls? What if we paid as much attention to the condition of our bodies that we do to our souls?
You do realize the important of your soul’s health? Jesus put it bluntly when he said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mk 8:36-37). The Bible comes to the logical conclusion. “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim 4:7-8). How is your soul getting along? Had a check up lately? Is it healthy and strong? What if your physical condition were only as strong as the health of your soul?
Remember the Rich Fool? He had everything going for him until God said, “This night your soul shall be required of you.”
What does a healthy soul look like? What does it take to have a healthy soul? John provides some hints in his discussion of Gaius. In the first part of the book, John speaks of Gaius knowing the truth, walking in the truth, and working together in the truth. Those three expressions reflect three requirements for a healthy soul.
Healthy souls, like healthy bodies, require:
Proper Nutrition. You are what you eat. That must be why I can see so many donuts and Twinkies this morning. Preachers aren’t exempt from this principle. I don’t how many times somebody has told me this true story. I would probably be offended if it didn’t come from Everett Griggs. Who could ever get offended at Everett? Several years ago a carload of our guys was headed for the Kiamichi Men’s Clinic in southeastern Oklahoma. Several thousand men would camp out for a week listening to great preaching and singing. Gale Miller, Bob Leist, and a couple other guys were traveling together. Everett was in the back seat not saying a word, minding his own business, probably asleep. All of the sudden Everett opens his eyes, lifts his head, and says so everyone can hear him, “I think I’ve just been called to the ministry.” When everyone looks his way he continues, “I must have. I am feelin’ kind of lazy and I have a hankerin’ for fried chicken.”
Soul health requires soul food. I am not talking about fried chicken and corn bread. Twice in our text Jesus reminds his disciples of the importance of abiding in his word. Elsewhere scripture advises, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:2-3). The writer of Hebrews presses that analogy to the next step. “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Any one who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.“ (Heb. 5:12-14). “Let the word of God dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). “Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God” (Rom 10:17).
Here’s the plain truth. Soul health requires soul food. You need to have a Bible. You need to read your Bible. You need to study your Bible alone and with others. You need to saturate your thinking and your life with God’s word. It’s a matter of soul health.
Proper Hygiene. The right food and all the vitamins in the world won’t necessarily produce good health if you don’t rid your life of the infections that can destroy you from the inside out.
Cleansing from sin is a must. Confession and repentance prepares the soul for growth and purity.
Proper Exercise. Putting faith into practice is a must. In 3 John, Gaius opened his home and his heart to missionaries. His generosity and hospitality make him a partner in the work of truth.
If we eat much and exercise little, we know what happens. A lot of us have the evidence to prove it. In fact, good exercise and good nutrition go together. The more you exercise, the better your appetite. The same is true of the soul. Some of us don’t have much of an appetite for the things of God simply because we are not doing anything with what we already have. James advises, “Be doers of the word and not just hearers only” (1:22).