I have a good friend I fish with now and then. He’s a very thoughtful man. After climbing into his waders and boots and gathering up his gear, he sits on the tailgate of his truck and scans the river for 15 minutes or more, looking for rising fish. “No use fishing where they ain’t,” he says. This makes me think of another question: “Do I fish for souls where they ain’t?”
It was said of Jesus that He was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). As Christians, we are to be unlike the world in our behavior, but squarely in it as He was. So we have to ask ourselves: Do I, like Jesus, have friends who are sinners? If I have only Christian friends, I may be fishing for souls “where they ain’t.”
Being with nonbelievers is the first step in “fishing.” Then comes love—a heart-kindness that sees beneath the surface of their off-hand remarks and listens for the deeper cry of the soul. It asks, “Can you tell me more about that?” and follows up with compassion. “There is much preaching in this friendliness,” pastor George Herbert (1593–1633) said.
Such love is not a natural instinct. It comes solely from God. And so we pray: “Lord, when I am with nonbelievers today, may I become aware of the cheerless voice, the weary countenance, or the downcast eyes that I, in my natural self-preoccupation, could easily overlook. May I have a love that springs from and is rooted in Your love. May I listen to others, show Your compassion, and speak Your truth today.”