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. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. (3 John 2,3)
How is your soul getting on?
I love the way the NIV translation puts these opening verses of John’s second letter. “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.” John shows concern for the whole of a person’s life under God. He’s not just ‘super spiritual’, only concerned about their soul and not their physical life. Rather he is concerned for the state of their body (‘good health’), the state of their life (‘all may go well with you’) and the state of their soul. John’s prayer is a terrific example for our own: to pray for a person’s physical life, such as their health and wellbeing; to pray for their circumstances, such as work and relationships; and to pray for their soul, their spiritual life, their walk with Jesus Christ.
John cares about all of these three aspects of a person’s life, but it’s the person’s soul that gets the primary attention. After all, the way a person copes with physical health and particular circumstances depends on the health of their soul. John prays for good health and good life, “even as your soul is getting along well.” Good health and pleasant circumstances are nothing with an unhealthy soul.
So, let me ask again, how is your soul getting on? Well I hope! Perhaps you have a sense of your soul thriving, your spiritual life growing and your walk with God progressing in various ways. On the other hand, you may feel that your spiritual life is struggling at the moment, and that you need to attend to the health of your soul as a matter of urgency.
For most of us, however, the answer to “How is your soul getting on?” may well be “Err … I don’t know?” After all, how do we judge the state of our souls? How do we measure whether our soul is in good health or in need of urgent medical attention?
Thankfully John gives us an answer in the very next verse: “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.” John knows that a person’s soul is getting on well because other people have told him about it. Which also means that the health of our souls is visible and able to be seen.
A healthy soul is faithful to the truth and continuing to walk in that truth. The evidence of that faithfulness and walk in truth is visible for others to see (and to report back to John!) A healthy soul is not only essential it is also evident. People can see the state of your inward life. The health of my inner soul is displayed in what I think and speak and do.
How is your soul getting on? The answer is, ask someone else! There’s a scary challenge for us: to ask someone who knows us well “How do you think my soul is doing? Can you see evidence that God’s grace is at work in me and that I am walking in the truth?” We might not like all the answers we get, but it might just be the soul health check up we need.