Pastor's Blog

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise.
Proverbs 11.30 (KJV)

I had to memorize this verse as a teenager.  We were taught it was about “soul-winning” – evangelical code for “evangelizing” (cold-calling for Jesus door-to-door, handing out gospel tracts to passers-by at the mall, trying to convert people).
Which everyone found an obnoxious and unwelcome intrusion into their day, and which is the opposite of the instruction in this verse!

Annoying public behavior doesn’t “win” anyone.

The Hebrew word for “winneth” is the common word for “take”.  The ESV (which I use these days) translates it “whoever captures souls.”  (And “soul” doesn’t mean “the invisible part of you that survives death.”  It means “person”, as in the American idiom “that poor soul”). 

It is wise to capture (or win) PEOPLE. 

How do you win people?  How do you capture their interest? 
You behave in such a way that they are not repulsed by you and are drawn to you. 

It’s the way you live, behave, and interact with them that matters.  That’s the point of the first half of the verse.  The righteous man – his way of life, his character, his behavior – is the fruit he produces, and that becomes “a tree of life” – a tree that brings life (blessing and goodness) to others. 

The way a righteous man lives life becomes a delight to the eyes, food for the soul, and maybe even makes others wise – gives them examples and food for thought.

I think this is indeed related to evangelism, but not in the way that I was taught. 

We live in a society skeptical, not just of Christianity, but of religion in general.  Religion is equated with “cults”, and those serious about religion are deemed brainwashed.

If you want people to buy into Christ, first they must buy into you.  And maybe your circle of friends.  They must see that you’re not brainwashed, that you are rational and the things you believe are rational – and right and good.  That isn’t so much a matter of teaching data as it is living life with them and in front of them.

That means everything we DO becomes an avenue that can lead to Jesus, who is at the center of our lives.  Everything in our lives touched by the Rock becomes a ripple that can touch the lives of others.

Your interests in playing baseball or the trumpet or learning martial arts or being an emergency responder or fishing and hunting or cross-stitching or having a pet or bird-watching or hiking or your gardening – all of these “human” things can become avenues to connect in life with others, opportunities to give them a taste of your life and your soul.

And if Christ is in you, that fruit should taste good to them.  They don’t have to know exactly what it is that they’re tasting.  If it tastes good, chances are they’ll come back for seconds.

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