The Book of Proverbs is full of practical instructions for life. One aspect of the Books of Proverbs that has caught the attention of many Christians is Proverbs 11:30: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” This proverb was written for the people of ancient Israel, but its messages remain applicable in the modern world. So what does the “he who wins souls is wise” mean?
This proverb means that wisdom is necessary to guide and influence others positively, and only those who are successful in doing so demonstrate wisdom. A significant aspect of saving souls involves helping nonbelievers or people who have strayed from a righteous path and leading them to Christ. Wise people can lead others to make better choices, and by doing so, they save souls from eternal damnation.
The Meaning of He Who Wins Souls Is Wise
This part of the proverb has several translations that point to its meaning. For example, “the one who is wise saves lives” (New International Version), “a wise person wins friends” (New Living Translation), and “one who is wise gains souls”(New American Standard Bible).
The definition of win is to attract or draw something towards you. It can also mean to recover or secure. According to Cambridge Dictionary, the word wise means having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
So “He who wins souls is wise” means that whoever leads people to Christ has deep knowledge and good judgment.
“He who wins souls is wise” also speaks of our influence on others. And what is winning, taking, or capturing of souls? It is to attract or capture others using wisdom gained from reading the gospel/God’s word.
What Does the Bible Say About Winning Souls?
Just like Jesus captured souls/won them over, so should Christians do the same. In fact, after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples were instructed to win souls: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus displayed his knowledge of the value of the soul when he said, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
James also reiterates a similar message of winning over souls for Christ when he says, “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death” (James 5:20). But winning souls has not been easy for Christians. The disciples who went on to preach after Jesus’ ascension were persecuted and endured harsh conditions. However, that didn’t stop them; they preached the Word everywhere they went (Acts 8:1-4).
Paul is one apostle who was dedicated to winning souls for God’s kingdom. Wherever Paul went, he found common ground with the people so that he could attract them (win their souls) to Christ:
“To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:21-22).
What is the Connection Between the First and Second Part of Proverbs 11:30?
The first part of the verse talks about the fruit of the righteous being a tree of life. The tree of life in this proverb is a Christian who has received eternal life through Christ, while the fruit is another person who has become a believer of Christ because of what we fed them. On several occasions, Jesus compares himself with a true vine that supplies life to Christians (John 15:1-5). In this context, Jesus wanted us to know that although He is no longer physically with us, we are still connected to Him spiritually. Spiritual connection leads to greater knowledge and deep wisdom.
So, through our spiritual connection to Jesus, we gain knowledge (become wise) and power that helps us outsmart or overcome the devil. James saw how important it was for people to have wise leaders who could help God’s people mature spiritually when he asked, “Who is a wise man and endowed with knowledge among you?” (James 3:13). Wise men and women have the experience to lead and guide God’s people to do the right thing. Often, such individuals live righteous and exemplary lives that others emulate. By living an exemplary life with actions that reflect who Jesus is, we can refute prejudices and win souls (1 Peter 2:12).
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 talks about the demolition of arguments, strongholds, and anything that lifts itself against God’s knowledge and brings every thought into captivity to obey Christ. So, we are to win souls by changing the minds of nonbelievers, and we are supposed to do that with God’s words and by displaying exemplary actions. That way, we become a source of nourishment to others. Nonetheless, only those who are righteous can win souls.
How to Win Souls To Christ
Present a Christlike Example
One of the best ways to win souls is to present a Christlike example. Jesus said He came into the world not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:42–44). Having a servant’s heart requires us to put aside our agenda.
Paul also emphasized the need to be a servant to all when he said that Jesus took the form of a servant in human likeness and humbled himself (Philippians 2:7). Through their righteous living, wise people attract other people and, as a result, can turn many to God.
Share God’s Word
It’s easy for a nonbeliever to wonder what’s so special about the gospel of Christ. Well, the Gospel of Christ is the word of God (power of God), which tells the good news of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16). The Bible also points out that Jesus will return after the word has been preached to every nation (Matthew 24:14). For this to happen, we must share God’s word with everyone -both Jew and Gentile (Acts 20:20-21) and should be done in the name of the lord (Colossians 3:17). Besides, it’s only by hearing the word of God that we can plant a seed of faith (Romans 10:17) and eventually win souls.
“He who wins souls is wise” is the second part of Proverb 11:30. The first part explains that before we can win souls, we must be righteous and live in a way that bears fruit and brings life to others. Then, because we have demonstrated ourselves to be trustworthy, we are called to do the work of winning souls. According to the Bible, those who win souls are considered wise because they have used the word of God to bring people to Christ and save them from eternal damnation.