CLERGY CORNER: The Value of a Prosperous Soul

Posted on 27 June 2019 by LeslieM

The fabled King Midas revealed his greed for riches when he wished that everything he touched would be turned to gold. The recklessness of his desire was seen in his inability to control the power, for even his daughter, whom he simply attempted to embrace, was turned into a lifeless statue of gold. Undeniably, there is something in all of us that desires to have more of the material and economic prosperity that offers to satisfy our every need, want, and fancy. Books, blogs, seminars, conferences, podcasts and a host of other mediums offering the pathway to riches and prosperity can easily be found. Advertisers have conditioned us to give in to their appeals to get the luxury car, European vacation, or expensive jewelry by telling us we ‘deserve’ it. Do riches truly satisfy, however? What is the source of true prosperity and contentment?

In 3 John verse 2, the Apostle John offers a prayer for a certain Gaius that appears to communicate a key to experiencing true prosperity. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. Definitions of prosperity include doing well, abounding, and succeeding. John’s prayer for Gaius, and indication of what God desires for us, was that the prosperity of his physical life would be equal to the prosperity of his spiritual life. The case could further be made that he conditioned the prosperity of the physical on the well-being of the spiritual in the statement. Either way, the prosperity (well-being, abundance and success) of the soul is given priority in the experience of Gaius’ life. Given the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of riches and wealth, as seen in the King Midas story or the modern (and real) examples that we are all aware of, we would do well to employ a pursuit of soul prosperity. Seek to live a good life yes, but make sure your priorities are in the right place.

Several years ago, I led members of our congregation on a 31-day spiritual adventure focused on the pursuit of soul prosperity. It was a simple exercise that involved a regimen of daily prayer, scripture reading and meditation, increased participation in spiritual activities at or through the church and journaling the experience. Our aim was to draw nearer to God, to become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our daily walk, and to develop as Christian Disciples by bringing the soul (mind, will, and emotions) into greater submission and obedience to the word of God.

While we all had goals and aspirations for success in life, we did not want to minimize the importance of orienting all that we did around our relationship with the God who loves us and has purposed to bless those who follow Him. It was a totally fulfilling experience that I have personally engaged in several times since then. I am convinced that the prosperity of one’s soul is of greater value than the net worth of one’s possessions.

Horatio Spafford was a Chicago lawyer who lost his son at the age of 2 and suffered property damage (and financial ruin) in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He had planned a European trip with his wife and four daughters in 1873 but was delayed by business matters, so he sent them on ahead on a transatlantic ship. He was horrified to later learn that the ship collided with another sailing vessel and sank in the Atlantic. His wife sent him a telegraph with the sad news, “saved alone.” That kind of tragedy and loss would have driven any man to desperation and deep depression. There is no doubt that it challenged every fiber of Spafford’s being, physical and spiritual. One outcome of his grief was to pen words that have brought comfort to many who have had to face the difficulties of life while clinging to faith in God. When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know it is well, it is well, with my soul. You may have a big bank account and an enviable retirement package, but they won’t prevent catastrophe. How prosperous is your soul?

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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