The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).
The righteous shall flourish as a branch, and they bear the fruits of the tree of life, for they are ingrafted in Christ, and derive supplies of spiritual influence from him. No fruit-bearing tree that is seen in our cursed earth, is a sufficient emblem to represent the excellency of the righteous man. He is like that noblest tree of paradise, which was planted by the hand of God himself, and was distinguished above all the trees in the paradise of God. His fruits are such as tend to produce and nourish a nobler life than any of the trees of the garden of Eden. Christ is indeed the life of souls, and those who are not united to him continue in death; but he is pleased to honour faithful ministers and edifying professors, by making them instruments of imparting his best blessings unto men. It is for this reason that diligent ministers are said to save themselves and their hearers. How excellent is the righteous man above his neighbours! His gracious words, his holy conversation, his prayers, his admonitions and instructions, are means of rendering service to others, more valuable than silver, or gold, or life itself. Let Christians therefore endeavour to be fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and labour to win souls to their Redeemer. Even women, who are not allowed to speak in the church, may by this means share the reward of those who turn many to righteousness. What know they but that they may save their husbands or neighbours, and allure to the faith of Christ those that did not obey his word?* They are wise who are wise unto salvation; how truly wise, then, are they who are instruments in converting and saving the souls of others from death! They are by the world counted wise, who, by means of their skill in business, leave their friends rich. But they shall at the great day be declared by the Judge of all wise, who can say, “Behold I, and the children which thou hast given me.” These are my joy and crown of rejoicing. Happy are all they who shall be able thus to speak on that eventful day, which seals the characters of men.
Let us also learn from this passage, to value the friendship and conversation of the righteous. If we knew of any tree that bore fruit which could prolong the life of man to an hundred, it would be esteemed more valuable than the treasures of kings, and we would spare no trouble or expense to have it transplanted into our gardens. What value, then, should we put on those whose fruit is the fruit of the tree of life, and whose conversation is instrumental in saving souls from death!
• I Peter iii. 2. 1 Cor. vii. 16