“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” —Jim Elliot’s journal entry for October 28, 1949 based upon the words of Jesus in Luke 9:24, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
What we hold onto is so futile, so temporary, so poor in comparison to what God offers, that one wonders why it is so difficult to give up. The answer is simple—it’s everything we have. Jim Elliot, the 28-year-old missionary who was murdered along with four other young missionaries by warriors from the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador, gave up his earthly life. What he gained in eternity will never be taken away. Most of us are not called to sacrifice our lives for the Gospel. Instead, Christ has asked us to die on the “installment plan,” a little bit at a time. It looks something like this:
•Give up our plans for God’s plans.
•Give up hoarding money to gain infinite spiritual wealth.
•Give up our frustrations to gain God’s peace.
•Give up our preferences for God’s truth.
•Give up our un-forgiveness to gain God’s forgiveness.
•Give up our control of others to gain God’s control of us.
•Give up our addictions to gain freedom in body and soul.
•And finally, give up our mortal lives to gain immortal life in Christ.
This is the cost of discipleship. This is the metaphor of baptism. This is what it means to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). According to Jesus, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
By fantastic mercy,