Fish or Cut Bait
November 10, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. - Matthew 7:13 NKJV.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. - Joshua 24:15 NKJV.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. - Acts 1:8 NKJV.
Fish or cut bait is an old colloquial expression dating from at least the mid-1800s in the United States; although, even then the meaning was not entirely understood by some. What does it mean? Yesterday, as I was talking about this at our church we found that all of us had heard the term used by our parents when we were growing up, and there were two apparent uses. One use of the term was to decide whether to continue fishing or cut the fishing line with the bait and go home. The other apparent use would be to decide between whether to continue cutting up bait to use in fishing or to begin to actually start fishing. So, it appears that the term is used in relation to decision making. I liked the definition I found in Wiktionary, “To make a decision, especially after a period of delay; to either take action now or forgo the opportunity.” Wiktionary gives the following as a use of the term, “It's time to fish or cut bait: either we buy this house now, or we must start looking for another one.”
Why am I writing about this term, fish or cut bait? Because, I believe that God has been bringing it to my attention over the last couple of weeks. Am I really giving my all in service to my Lord? If not, God is calling me to a time of decision and commitment.
Jesus warns of the “broad” way as compared to the “narrow gate” in Matthew 7:13. This is a fish or cut bait kind of decision. Will a person enter the “narrow gate” through receiving Jesus as their Savior or will they instead continue down the “broad” way that leads to destruction? Joshua called the Israelites to a fish or cut bait kind of decision, would they worship false gods or follow the one true God? Joshua made his decision, and commitment very clear, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The disciples had followed Jesus for three years and then they fled for their lives when Jesus was arrested and crucified. When the resurrected Christ Jesus appears to His disciples He once again calls them to a fish or cut bait kind of moment. In Acts 1:4, “And being assembled together with them, He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me.’” The disciples confronted with the truth of the resurrection are obedient as they wait in the upper room for power from on high to come upon them (Acts 1:8).
God is continuously calling us daily (Luke 9:23) to either fish or cut bait. Our part is to make the decision to follow, to make the commitment. God’s part is that He does not throw us to the sharks, but provides us with the empowerment (Acts 1:8) as we see demonstrated with Peter becoming the awesome preacher of Pentecost. God is still calling, will we fish or cut bait today?