“And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”” -Matthew 4:19
Let me paint the picture for you. We are at the Sea of Galilee. There are two sets of brothers here. Peter and Andrew, and James and John. They are fishermen. Not the wealthiest of men, because we know that fishing was their occupation, rather than a recreational activity. We know that they weren’t the most educated men. They weren’t raised scholarly, in books, but rather in trade. Then enters the Lord Jesus into the narrative. Giving them a command, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
What does Jesus mean when he says follow me? He is calling them to a close, disciplined walk with Him. There is no more time to be fishermen, they are now chosen to be fishers of men. He is calling them to a life focused on mens souls. A life focused on reeling in the souls of men into the Kingdom of God.
Responding to the effectual call of Christ, is always obedience to the call to go fishing. A near, close walk with Jesus shapes us into soul-winners. To be effective soul-winners doesn’t mean to be the most educated person, although education is a wonderful thing. You do not have to be smartest, although sharpness helps drive a hook into the heart. To be a soul-winner, you must simply have a soul that has been won.
Let me be clear, mindless evangelism is an oxymoron. You should never lay aside your ability to reason when seeking the conversion of a soul. You do not want to speak aimlessly, and without Scripture. You want the word stored in your heart, and freely given to the ears of the lost. It is the power of the word that initializes, sustains, grows, and preserves the faith. Do not neglect the word in your efforts to win a soul to our Lord. They must hear, and learn to know His voice, which is the written Word of God.
What are some attributes of an effective soul-winner?
- Holiness: “Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” -1 Peter 1:16
The men with the most piercing words, are the ones who pierce their own sin in their private lives. You cannot call an unbeliever out of a world system that you yourself are in love with. The holiest individuals gather the greatest amount of souls for our Lord.
2. Prayerful: “Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Private prayer life, public prayer life, internal prayer life, and external prayer life. A lifestyle of prayer must be had to be an effective soul-winner. We must pray, because we know that we ourselves cannot regenerate the heart. We know that if a person is to be saved, God will have to act upon their heart. We are always praying that the Holy Spirit causes the sinner to be born-again, apart from Him our efforts are futile.
3. Genuine: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” -Romans 12:9
Our love must be genuine, and our abhorrence of evil must be genuine. We do not have to sacrifice the hard-truths of the gospel to be an effective soul-winner. To withhold hard-truths, is to give half-truths. We are not seeking to make half-converts, but whole converts. Our love for the truth, and for the person must be genuine.
The greatest lives lived, are those who fished the most intensely and effectively for our Lord Jesus, therefore I will leave you with this quote from the book ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ by John Piper:
“You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing.”