Jesus said to Simon and Andrew in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In Luke 5:5, when Jesus told Simon to let down his net for a catch, Simon replied, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” They filled their nets and boats to the point of overflowing. Even though they were having no success, they were still fishing! Jesus then came to them and by His miraculous ability, demonstrated His power over creation.
When it comes to fishing, a group of men may talk about going fishing, make plans to go fishing, and study about fishing. However, if they never go fishing, they will be absolutely certain to never catch a fish! There is a lesson to be learned about how we teach the lost.
There is certainly a time to talk, plan, and study about being fishers of men. In fact, the more we do this, the more effective we will be. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” What could more honorable, pure, or lovely than to think, talk, and plan on the saving of another person’s soul?
We must know what to say to those who we are trying to convert to Christ (1 Timothy 4:16; 1 Peter 3:15). Telling others about the doctrine of Christ is what will save their souls if they will heed it (Romans 1:16). Men and women must be instructed about Jesus and His demands of loyalty, faithfulness, and obedience. This demands study, talk, and planning. This may be very different than what they are hearing from other religious groups regarding salvation, but only the pure truth of the gospel will set them free.
But the fact still remains: in order to be fishers of men, we must go fishing! There is simply no way to successfully convert another person by proxy. We have to get used to breaking out of what we are comfortable with and ask people to study the scriptures. Sometimes we may pull up our nets and they may be empty, but we can say that we have been fishing for souls. God gives the increase if we plant and water (1 Corinthians 3:5-8).