The Righteous Encourage a Strong Church
Does your righteousness encourage a stronger church? Notice the descriptions of the righteous from Solomon in Proverbs 11. The righteous 1) have integrity, 2) are delivered from death, 3) have a blameless path before them, 4) are delivered by their choices, 5) are rescued from trouble and 6) escape by the knowledge from God. None of these qualities do the righteous have because of their own ability or goodness. Instead, as with the main premise of this book, the righteous choose to follow and adhere to the wisdom and knowledge from God (1.7-19; 2.1-6; 3.1-5;13-15; 4.1,2,5-11, etc.) God impresses on us, as Solomon did his son, to follow, embrace and acknowledge as great treasure the knowledge and wisdom coming from God’s mouth.
God shares with us how the life of the righteous will encourage a strong and faithful church before God (11.9-14). Notice the actions that the righteous man encourages for the church. The mouth of the righteous helps other righteous people escape danger and sin (Jms 3:1f; Gal 6:1,2); the righteous enables “the church” to prosper and be exalted; the righteous are holy in their speech; and the righteous encourage a strong church by following God’s way. Are you living in God’s wisdom in order to be a righteous person? Is your righteousness helping the church to grow and be victorious? What are you doing today to encourage a stronger church? (Matt 15.5-14; Prov 2.10-16; 28.12; Eccl 9.11-18)
The Righteous Refresh – vs 25
How do you give of yourself to refresh God’s church? Solomon shares here that when we refresh or renew another person we ourselves will be renewed. Paul stated that when we are comforted, we should comfort those around us with God’s comfort (2 Cor 1:3). How have you been refreshed by someone else lately? Do you remember how you felt being refreshed by that person? Do doubt we need to pass that same blessing by refreshing other people. I believe part of refreshing is to be merciful (Mat 5.7; be forgiving (Eph. 4:31); and be selfless and give (Phil. 2:1-4). Jesus shared a parable about what our refreshing looks like and its reward for us as God’s children (Matt 25.34).
The Righteous Encourage Growth – vs 30
Too often, Christians seem to think that winning souls is a gift one has or does not have, as opposed to an outpouring of God’s love as a Christian. Solomon states that those who are righteous and wise help the church to grow. What an interesting phrase to find in the book of Proverbs. A wise man will be righteous and will win souls for God’s church. Are you building your life to encourage blessings for the church? Are you sending yourself to the world to plant seeds for God’s church?
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” 2 Kings 5:1-14
How often do we identify with Naaman? We read this story and wonder how he could be so stubborn and prideful. He no doubt expected Elisha to treat him in an honorable way because of who he was. And yet the treatment was so very simple. It is true that the water he was to dip into was not his first choice; however they would cleanse him of his leprosy. How about you? What is God doing for you, methods in which he is blessing you, that is not that way you would choose? You may want something bigger, more profound, or through a different person – or even something easier. The truth is we ask God to bless us or give us wisdom and we dishonor him with our pride. “I don’t want it that way!”… we say to God. We learn from Naaman that obedience comes out of humility. Without humility we cannot obey God. Today, are you allowing pride to get in the way of obedience?