Righteous Influence on the City

"With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,

But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,

And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,

But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down."

                                                            ~ Proverbs 11:9-11


Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16) - 2 missional metaphors. Both are designed to get us to see our relationship with God as not only a personal END, but, more importantly, as a MEANS of reaching the people of the world. The vertical must translate to the horizontal.

The above verses from Proverbs 11 are all about influence. Each verse contains a couplet of parallel lines. In each couplet, we find a contrast between the influence of the righteous and the wicked on their culture and local community. The text is clear that both groups will have influence. The question becomes which group will have the greater influence. To use a political metaphor, who will win the swing states? Who will win the seekers who are not okay with their current status quo but are not sure where to turn in seeking goodness? 

Sometimes the people of God find themselves in a position like Esther, who was able to change public policy to something that enabled the continuation and thriving of the people of God…or like Daniel, who was able to give wise counsel that eventually won over an influential pagan king to faith in Yahweh…or like David, who was able to promote faith and justice throughout the Kingdom of Israel in his time as king.

Or sometimes the people of God find themselves in a position like a Samaritan bandaging the wounds of a man left for dead on the side of the road…or like a widow putting a mere coin which was all she had to live on into the temple treasury as an offering…or like Joseph of Arimathea offering to see to the burial of a friend who had just shamefully died as a criminal. These may not seem like “big,” city-changing, culture-changing moves. But every one of them sprinkles salt that the surrounding community most desperately needs if it’s going to be preserved. You don’t have to be a David, an Esther, or a Daniel to be the upright who bless their city. Your cup of cold water to one in need may speak just as loudly as they ever did.


To His Glory,

Caleb Cochran

Photo credit: lozikiki via Foter.com / CC BY-ND