Anglers beware… by bigplew
March 15, 2008, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Books, Culture

by Bill Kittrell

compleat1.jpg“And that (fishing) be fit for the contemplation of the most prudent, and pious, and peaceable men, seems to be testified by the practice of so many devout and contemplative men as the patriarchs and prophets of old; and of the apostles of our Saviour in our latter times,—of which twelve, we are sure, he chose four that were simple fishermen,—whom he inspired, and sent to publish his blessed will to the Gentiles; and inspired them also with a power to speak all languages, and by their powerful eloquence to beget faith in the unbelieving Jews; and themselves to suffer for that Saviour whom their forefathers and they had crucified; and, in their sufferings, to preach freedom from the incumbrances of the law, and a new way to everlasting life: this was the employment of these happy fishermen. Concerning which choice, some have made these observations:—
First, that he never reproved these for their employment or calling, as he did the Scribes and the Money-changers. And, secondly, He found that the hearts of such men, by nature, were fitted for contemplation and quietness; men of mild, and sweet, and peaceable spirits, as indeed most anglers are…”


I sure love to fish and my best friends are fisherman. My love for fishing – and fly fishing in particular – led me to check out Sir Izaak Walton’s ‘The Compleat Angler’ (written in 1653). It is a fascinating read. But…I’m not sure even I can go as far in commending fisherman as Sir Izaak did!

And I think he is taking the verse used on the title page out of context a bit:

“Simon Peter said, I go a fishing: and they said, We also will go with thee.” John 21.3.

Peter and the disciples were discouraged. The Lord had been crucified and they were headed back to their old jobs despairing! This was no frolicking fishing outing with James and John.

I am struck, though, by Sir Izaak’s apparent respect for Scripture, the Savior, the disciples, etc. I can’t say for sure what kind of Christian he was, if he was a Christian at all, but it is obvious he lived during a time that was vastly different than our own.

Every where I turn in our culture seems to be against my most cherished beliefs and convictions. The media, music, politics, education, etc., no longer are supportive or even respectful of the Christian faith. If our culture wants to flatter a fisherman it just isn’t going to say Jesus found their heart ‘fitted’ in any way!

So, what does that mean for a man in the 21st century? It means there is a war on. It means there are enemies of the faith. Men today have to be vigilant and not just for their own souls. They have families and friends to lead. And the church needs men of courage who will keep the faith while they live in a hostile world.

1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.”

“Satan…knows…all sin comes from failing to live by faith in future grace…Which means that the number one aim of Satan is the destruction of faith…Satan wants to catch us at a time when our faith is not firm, when it is vulnerable…The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy.” John Piper

In the 21st century we can still ‘go a fishin’ like Sir Izaak and we can even cast a fly for a wary trout! But we cannot expect our culture to admire us because Jesus has inspected our hearts and likes what he sees. We don’t live in a world that will encourage our faith but, in fact, seems to be throwing everything possible at us to destroy it.

So, men, enjoy a great day on the stream…but be on the alert.


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