We all want to be blessed with long life. However, it is one thing to live a life that is long yet full of struggles, and another thing to have a long, prosperous and healthy life. In his letter, the apostle John expressed his desire for his friend, Gaius, to fully enjoy his life when he said, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2). With this prayer, he did not wish that his friend would only have good spiritual health but have overall well-being in his body and in his soul. In like manner, we need to pray the same prayer for our loved ones, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, that they too will fully enjoy their lives and be able to serve the Lord better. It is a fact that many are hindered in serving the Lord because of their struggles in their health and in their general well-being.
John’s prayer echoed the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This promise of the Lord has brought so much joy to all of us who believe. It is worth noting, however, that an abundant life does not necessarily refer to material prosperity. Rather, it refers to the Lord being able to adequately meet our needs as expressed by King David in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Again, the abundant life that the Lord promised is not about what we are able to possess or acquire, but about the use and enjoyment of the blessings that we receive from him, and acknowledging that we are mere stewards of these blessings. Abundant life is laced with love, joy, peace, mercy and grace, among others. Indeed, abundance is not always translated into dollar signs because there are many rich people that do not enjoy their riches. They do not have peace and joy, and they are lacking in love.
The prayer of John encompasses three major concerns – physical health, spiritual health and the overall well-being of the soul. The concern for physical health is not unfounded. Many are suffering because of the neglect of their bodies. They do not feed their bodies well and they become weak and susceptible to all kinds of sickness. When the apostle Paul was travelling by sea and their ship was being battered by storm, the people with him were in constant suspense and had gone without food for weeks. He encouraged them saying, “Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive” (Acts 27:34). Yes, we need to eat to live. However, others live to eat – they do not watch the foods that they eat. Not everything that tastes and looks good is good for the body. In fact, much of what tastes good and looks good is junk food. Again, the apostle Paul said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Also, the concern for spiritual health should never be overlooked. Unless we are able to attend to our spiritual life properly, we can be what the apostle Paul described as “walking dead.” In his epistle, the apostle Paul said, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph 2:1-2). Just as we take good care of our bodies, we should also take good care of our spirit. We need spiritual food to grow in our faith. This is the reason why the apostle Peter said, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). It is when we are spiritually healthy that we are able to fully enjoy all of God’s blessings.
Lastly, the Lord is concerned about our overall well-being. He gave us instructions on how we can fully enjoy life. In particular, he commanded, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). The Lord emphasizes honoring of parents so that there shall be no hindrances in the flow of blessings from parents to the children. It must also be understood that honor begets honor. Unless we obey God’s command to honor our parents, the Lord will not honor us. To further emphasize obedience as a key to our overall well-being, the Lord, through Moses, said, “Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God” (Deut. 12:28). Indeed, the plan of the Lord is for us to enjoy life – in spirit, soul and body. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Hallelujah!