The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11.30). The Book of Proverbs is a great source of practical instruction about life and how to live it in the best possible way. A great suggestion for becoming more familiar with Proverbs is to read one chapter from this great book each day. Following this procedure, the book gets read each month. Proverbs 11.30 certainly ought to be a verse that slows us down as we read to spend some serious “pondering time.” To ponder is not as common as once it was, because of the rush-rush world in which we live.
I have an old volume of Teacher’s Annual Lesson Commentary in my personal library. I love these books, especially some of the older ones. This particular book was published in 1952 for the use of Bible Class teachers in 1953. One of the many texts dealt with in this edition of the series is Proverbs 11.30. Roy H. Lanier, Sr., was the editor of this volume. He makes application of this text to wise men winning souls away from destruction. He lists seven reasons why such an activity is to be labeled W-I-S-E.
When we win a soul for Christ, we lessen the influence for evil in the world.
When we win a soul for Christ we increase the total influence for good in the world.
When we win a soul for Christ we have done that person the greatest favor it is possible to do.
In that way we cause more joy in heaven than we can cause in any other way (Luke 15.7).
In doing so, we save a soul from eternal death (James 5.20).
We transform a life from sin and shame unto a life of righteousness and usefulness.
In doing so, we are trying to win our own souls from destruction by not only hearing but doing what Jesus has taught us to do (Matthew 7.24-27).
May I just ask you to look over brother Lanier’s seven points once again? It is easy to skim through a list and not get the full benefit that is available with a careful consideration of that which is listed.
I want us to contemplate the immensevalue the work of winning souls happens to be. Can we not find within this listing of the value of evangelistic activity some point that will serve as a goad or prick to our own feeble efforts in that direction? Paul was told by our Lord that it was hard for him to kick against the pricks (Acts 9.5). The “prick” or “goad” was the same instrument used by Shamgar to kill 600 Philistines (Judges 3.31). The prick was a sharp piece of iron on a stick with which the ox is urged on in the right direction by its owner [Barnes’ Notes]. I have seen them used quite effectively in India and Indonesia. Let’s allow these shining truths to prick us in the right direction, also.
To be wise with the use of our God-given resources is something good and pleasant to the Lord. If we would take notice of the opportunities that come our way to reach out to the lost and to be an influence for that which is right and good, the rewards for the vision and actions should truly be large. For those of us at Maple Hill, let’s be sure to get those “business cards” out into the public!
Tools that are available to us today are truly amazing! The use of whatever means or method we have available to work toward winning lost souls just has to be the most special kind of wisdom!
Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician.
In considering the two groups Jesus had contact with in Luke 5.27-32, a riddle to solve is which group is in a better place, spiritually speaking. Please take the time to read these verses right now. Was it the pompous and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who would not deign themselves needful to come to Jesus for healing? The very ones who came to criticize the fact that Jesus was seeking the lost by being in their midst? Or, would it be the friends of Levi, who were tax collectors and sinners—WHO KNEW THEY WERE SINNERS and willing to listen to Levi’s new friend? Both groups are sinners, without doubt, but one group seems nearer understanding that fact and thus being nearer the possibility of doing something about it.
I fear that we often lose sight of the real lesson to be gleaned from this passage in Luke. We do have here one of the names or titles given to Jesus in Scripture. It is most comforting and appealing to think of our Lord as a physician who can heal us from the ravages of sin! I love the song: The Great Physician, by William Hunter and J.H. Stockton. The words of the first stanza are as follows:
The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
O hear the voice of Jesus.
Certainly the words of this song are true and they are comforting. However, we may miss something very important about this text by focusing too much on the idea of Jesus as physician. In context, He was giving an answer to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, remember. It seems to me that using the figure of Himself as physician is almost incidental.
Evidently, Jesus felt that these publicans and sinners were “live” and “valid” for prospecting. Jesus would be teaching them just as He did anyone else while He went about His mission of seeking and saving that which was lost (Luke 19.10).
Are you more or less likely to respond to the good news when you are fully aware of your sinful condition? Brother Winkler used to teach us in preaching school that the job of the preacher is to: comfort the afflicted and likewise to AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLE. The Pharisees could not begin to commence to start to think of themselves being in need of anything that Jesus of Nazareth could provide them. How foolish they were and how foolish is anyone who thinks as they did! Jesus lowers the boom on them in Matthew 23 because of their self-righteousness, showmanship, and hypocrisy.
It certainly is taught in Scripture that Christians need to be wary and watchful about the associations that we make. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15.33… Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. The NKJV has it: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” We must not allow ourselves to have the kind of contact with sinners that will put us at risk for being influenced negatively. But if we follow the example of Jesus, we will not be isolating ourselves completely from the world. We must come into contact with lost souls in order to save lost souls. Good judgment will have to be exercised in this matter, to be sure.
In this context when Jesus talks about the SICK needing a PHYSICIAN, He teaches an important lesson as He answers the faulty criticism spat out by the scribes and Pharisees. He is referencing Himself as the PHYSICIAN. He is referencing all men as the SICK. All men do need the balm that is possible because of the completed mission of our Lord Jesus. The lesson is, the ones who are willing to acknowledge a need for the medicine are the ones most likely to be helped by the efforts of the physician.
Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician. What are we to do with such valuable medicine as this? It has to be obvious that we must find the SICK (with all diligence) and administer the healing balm of the gospel and doctrine of Christ! As we go forth with this task, when we find precious souls who already realize their lost condition, we are at an advantage in placing before them the healing balm of the gospel of Christ! Let us be wise in following the example of THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!