May 24 I Thursday

1 Chronicles 22-24

John 8:28-59


“Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.”   

—Matthew 4:21


When Jesus called four fishermen to be His disciples, He gave them an invitation and a promise. The invitation was “follow me,” which they did by walking with Jesus and making themselves available to Him. The promise was that He would make them into fishers of men whom He would put in the right place at the right time to introduce others to Him. Jesus also calls us to fish for people in order to grow His kingdom, but this requires knowing what tools Christ has equipped us with.

A professional fisherman’s most important tool is a net, which must be carefully prepared and mended to keep from tearing in the middle of a catch. Every net requires two contrary forces to be effective. Weights sink one side of the net into the water, while floats keep the other side on the surface. Without weights, the fish would swim underneath a net stuck floating on the surface, and without floats, the net would sink to the bottom and be equally ineffective. Both are needed to stretch the net and catch fish.

In 1699, Scottish preacher Thomas Boston wrote a small book titled The Art of Man Fishing: A Puritan’s View on Evangelism. He devotes a chapter to the nets Christians use to fish for people, comparing the weights and floats of a fisherman’s net to what we include in our Gospel presentations. In Old English, he writes, “So lest invitations and promises of the gospel be slighted, there must be used some legal terrors and law threatening to drive the fish into the net. Thou seest then that both law and gospel are to be preached, the law as a pendicle of the gospel net, which makes it effectual; the law being a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ.”

The weights are the laws of God and the floats are the good news of Christ. We must ask ourselves what good is it to preach the Gospel—namely that people need saving-—if those to whom we are ministering have no idea what people need saving from. This would be like a doctor prescribing medicine to a patient without first diagnosing what is wrong. An effective Gospel presentation addresses the problem of sin as well as the solution of Christ, though always at the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If we explain only the weights, people will be left frustrated as they try to meet an impossible standard, and if we explain only the floats, they will be left wondering why they need the saving grace of God in the first place.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, grant me confidence and compassion as I share with others the weights and floats of salvation. Thank You that no amount of sin is too weighty for You to forgive. In Your holy name.

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