Proverbs 11:10 says, “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…” Here we have a scene of great joy. It is not limited to one household or one neighborhood. The whole city is caught up in the celebration. And this is not the ballet with a ripple of polite applause. This is dancing in the streets. This is the party in Paris on V-Day when WWII was over. This is the parade after your team wins a world championship.
What brings about this type of exuberant joy in a community? The Bible tells us that type of joy is brought about by the prosperity of the righteous. Everyone around is happy when righteous people excel in their jobs, get a raise, live healthy lives, gain skills, win awards and flourish in relationships. On the surface this seems counterintuitive. It is often hard for us to be happy for other people. We can easily be inclined toward jealousy. We want good things to happen to us – and we are not necessarily excited when they happen to our neighbor.
The key is to understand who the righteous are. They are not just people who do moral things. They are people who live their lives with an awareness of God. They are not haughty but genuinely humble and grateful for what they have been given. These are people who are marked by personal integrity and given to generosity. These are people who have compassion for the poor and invest in others. We generally root for these kinds of people. And we are genuinely happy when they flourish. These people are recognized as assets to the community.
Consider the biblical account of Boaz. Boaz is a kind and generous farmer. He makes provision for poor people to glean in his fields. He protects a young foreign woman who would have been vulnerable to sexual attack. He labors out in the field with his workers. He is honest in his dealings. So when he marries Ruth and she gives him a son, the community explodes in celebration. So what impact are you having on your city?
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