The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. -Proverbs 11.30
The greatest joy in my life came on a warm Pennsylvania evening in July of 1990. That is the day that I came to Christ and asked Him to take away my sins and give me the gift of everlasting life. The subsequent unburdening that occurred will never be rivaled in this life. But there is something that comes closely to it. I cannot think of anything that brings as much joy in life as winning souls.
But the interpretation of Proverbs 11.30 has been disputed a bit. Some see a contrast in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word ḥāmās (violent) is substituted for the word wise (ḥākām). The reason the substitution takes place is because the phrase win souls can be translated take souls as in killing or murder. Therefore, the contrast is between the fruit of the righteous (life-giving) and the violence of the wicked (life-taking).
I think it best to read the verse with the word wise. The phrase win souls could also mean take souls in the sense of captivating them or influencing them for righteousness. This would mean that the two thoughts in this Proverb are actually parallel and do not form a contrast (as in the NKJV). If I am correct in my understanding, then the idea of evangelism would be a legitimate application of the verse.
One Sunday a car had broken down in the alley behind a church in Arizona, and the driver had jacked up the car and crawled underneath to work on the problem. Suddenly, the pastor and congregation heard him scream for help. The jack had slipped, and the car had come down on top of him.
Some ran for a phone to call 911. Several of the men gathered around the large car and strained to lift it off the trapped man. Nurses from the congregation were rounded up and brought to the scene. Somehow the men were able to ease the car’s weight off the man and he was pulled free. The nurses checked him over. He was scratched up and shaken, but otherwise okay.
When this man was in danger, people acted quickly and decisively. They recognized the urgency to save this man. They were willing and wise to do so. We need this attitude with the many at risk of losing life eternally! Are you willing and wise to win souls?