"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise."-Proverbs 11:30
A verse that has influenced my Christian life more than any other is probably Proverbs 11:30. God says, "he that winneth souls is wise." When I first saw this verse I had never led a soul to Christ. I was newly saved and entering my sophomore year at the University of Florida. Like most young college students, I thought I knew a lot. Proverbs 11:30 began to run through my mind. "He that winneth souls is wise." I realized that according to God's Word I was not wise. If winning souls was what made a person wise, then I was very foolish. I had never led a soul to Jesus Christ.
I realized that I needed to change the purpose of my life. Knowing at that time that I was saved and going to heaven because I had trusted Jesus Christ as the One who died for me on the cross of Calvary, I knew I was going to live in heaven forever. Verses like I John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life," and other verses like John 3:16-18, settled the fact that I was saved forever. I knew God would never lose me or cast me out because He said so in John 6:37 and 39. I believed Him.
Still, "He that winneth souls is wise." I had to face this verse squarely. I was not winning souls. Another verse came to my attention in Daniel 12:3, where God said, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." This verse spoke of the great reward for winning the lost. The phrase, "turning many to righteousness" means to turn many to trusting Christ as Saviour so that they might receive the righteousness of God. This is the requirement for eternal life. II Corinthians 5:21 says, "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." In this wonderful verse, "being wise" is made equivalent to "turning many to righteousness." God tells us in Romans 4:5 that our faith in Jesus Christ is counted in God's sight for righteousness. "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
A soul winner is wise because God says so. When all is said and done, all that really counts is what God said was important. A soul winner is wise because he will have God's praise and reward.
It wasn't until years later that I understood the meaning of the first part of Proverbs 11:30, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life." The righteous person is the believer who has been given the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:21). Romans 3:10 says, "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one." The unbeliever is seen as unrighteous, but the believer is seen as righteous because of what Christ did at Calvary (Romans 4:5). The fruit of the believer is souls. It is a believer reproducing himself. The fruit of a believer would therefore be another believer. Even in the early pages of Genesis, God says that everything would reproduce after its own kind (Genesis 1:11-12).
Proverbs 11:30 says this fruit is "a tree of life." I believe everyone has probably charted his family tree. Most start with Mom and Dad, and above them Grandmom and Granddad, with Aunts and Uncles forming branches and limbs. Everyone in our family genealogy will one-day die. It is really a tree of death. However, when a believer leads someone to Christ they become a son or daughter in a spiritual family. The Apostle Paul recognized the truth that he was a spiritual parent to those that he had lead to Christ. "For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel (I Corinthians 4:15)."
We also beget people through the gospel. If you lead someone to Christ they become your son or daughter in the Lord. If they in turn lead someone to Christ, they become your grandson or granddaughter in the Lord. Christians can become a parent to a whole tree of persons who will live forever.
When I saw the wonderful truth in Proverbs 11:30, I decided that I wanted to have a large spiritual family, a giant tree of life. I wanted the rewards and blessings spoken of in Daniel 12:3. I wanted to be wise in God's sight.
This was the purpose and direction I needed for my life. It is the purpose and command of Jesus Christ to all believers everywhere. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)." This is the great commission that Jesus Christ gave to His church. We don't hear too much about this command in our churches these days, do we? This is one of the unfortunate signs of the last days before Jesus will return.
When Jesus Christ started His discipleship ministry, He plainly told those He recruited what the purpose of His program was. "And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)." After three years of training in His discipleship program, Jesus said they would become soul winners.
Most discipleship programs offered today are counterfeits of the truth. If you have been presented any discipleship program which does not make you a fisher of men, or a soul winner, it is a false program. Don't be fooled! Don't be foolish! Be wise!
Who is wise? "He that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30)." Why not begin today? Pick out someone to witness to. God says His reward will be such that you will shine as the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3).
If you are not certain of your salvation, then trust Jesus Christ as your only hope for heaven. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have EVERLASTING LIFE (John 3:16)." You could receive everlasting life right now if you would trust Jesus Christ right now.
Then tell someone else and God will reward you! In nature, only mature trees bear a maximum of fruit; young trees may blossom profusely, but the flowers do not set, and the fruit does not develop. So as you mature as a Christian, your fruitfulness in soul winning ought to increase.