Have you ever been fishing, boys and girls? Many of you have, I'm sure. I wonder if you've ever had the joy of catching a fish? Fishing is great fun, and there is no thrill in any sport, to me, like that of drawing in the fishing line with a big fish on it.
I was down on one of the beaches, yesterday, and there I saw three or four men, fishing. They were patiently standing by while their fishing lines were far out in the water. It takes patience to fish, you know. Finally one of the men began to draw in his line. It had a fine fish on it, but just as he had it drawn up a bit, the fish slipped off the line and back into the water. It was a disappointment, but the man didn't give up; but continued fishing, hoping in the end to catch that very same fish.
God's Word has much to say about fishing and fishermen. The Lord Jesus loved fishermen, and chose several of them to be His disciples. Peter, Andrew, James and John all followed this trade. "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And He said unto them, Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men. . . . And they straightway left their nets and followed Him."—Matt. 4 :1 8 -20.
This invitation of the Lord Jesus is extended to us today, boys and girls—"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." This is His desire and plan for all those who follow Him—that they shall go forth to win souls for Him. Here is a sword fish. (Exhibit or display picture.) Someone was so pleased at catching this fish that they had it mounted. Often in visiting offices, I notice large fish mounted and kept as reminders of a time when their owner was very successful at fishing. Such trophies surely do bring a thrill, but they can never compare with the joy of winning a soul for Christ.
How well I remember the first soul I ever won. The man was a saloon keeper, and as I left him after he had confessed Christ as his Saviour, a joy flooded my soul such as I had never known before. The thrill of catching a fish down on the wharf, boys and girls, is as nothing compared to this joy.
The fisherman waits with patience to catch a fish, so in soul-winning, much patience is needed. A boy or girl does not always come to Sunday school the first time you invite them, do they? Often it takes many invitations. Sometimes a soul is won for the Lord only after years of prayer and testimony.
The successful fisherman throws his line far out into the water and stands back from the pier or wharf so that as little of his shadow is seen as is possible. 'When fishing for souls, we must be careful to avoid letting self be seen or even the shadow of self. Only One must be seen, and that One the Lord Jesus. Tell of Him and all of His love and power to save. Someone will hear and believe and receive everlasting life. ( John 5:24.)
It is very important to know the kind of bait to use to attract the various kinds of fish; so it is important to know how to use God's Word in dealing with different people. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth."-2 Tim. 2:15. Hide God's Word in your hearts, boys and girls, so that you will be able to use it in soul winning at any time and any place.
God uses some men as evangelists, and when they "cast their net," as it were, at the close of an evangelistic meeting, many souls are won for the Lord. So some kinds of fishing is carried on by means of a net like this one. (Exhibit net.) Perhaps you have been at a wharf some time and have seen the fishermen come in from a day's fishing with such nets. However, the average fisherman uses a pole and line like this one (exhibit line and pole) and catches fish one at a time. Most of us are used in this way in soul winning,—leading souls to the Lord one by one.
"He that winneth souls is wise," we read in Prov. 11:30. This means boys and girls as well as grown-ups. If you would be wise, begin today to be a soul winner or a fisher of men. Invite your playmates to Sunday school and church where they may hear the good news of the Gospel. Give your own testimony of what the Lord Jesus has done for you, and what He longs to do for them.
A "crown of rejoicing" is promised to the soul winner in "that day" (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:9-15) when rewards are given out. (1 Thess. 2:19.)
The fisherman rejoices at the close of a day's fishing in his catch of fish, so when our days of fishing for Him are over, and we stand in His presence, our joy will be to have others there who have heard the Gospel story through us.