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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

He Is No Fool Who Gives What He Cannot Keep… gain what he cannot lose.

Jim Elliott penned these words in his journal shortly before his death, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim and four other missionaries paid the ultimate price when they were killed while participating in Operation Auca, during an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people in Ecuador.

This is a guest post by Beth Harris. She is a wife, mother, Bible study leader and volunteer editor for

They gave their temporary lives, which were not theirs to keep, to gain what they could not lose, i.e. eternal life and the blessings of heaven.

Please click here to learn more about Jim Elliot.

I don’t know what it’s like to be truly persecuted, imprisoned, tortured or martyred for the Christian faith.

But, I do know the backlash that comes from not siding with the majority. I have been ridiculed in my defense of the Bible. I do know the painful separation of loved ones who walk paths I cannot follow. I know the sting of rejection from expressing unpopular viewpoints.

It feels lonely sometimes, yet I am not alone. Jesus is with me and He is worth it all.

In Luke 14:28-30 Jesus said,

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” (NIV)

Salvation is free but there is a price to pay if we want to be disciples of Jesus. 

Jesus wants us to estimate the cost of what we might have to spend or give up to follow Him, such as our time, finances, relationships and lives.

Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (NIV)

We spend our time and money on any number of things to accomplish our hopes, dreams and wishes. This isn’t necessarily wrong. But, are we willing to sacrifice and surrender these things to follow Jesus?

Jesus wants us to submit to Him and surrender everything to His Lordship or rule.

He loves us and knows that unless we put Him first in our lives, other things and people will vie for that position and take His place.

Matthew 16:25-26 says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (NIV)

It is better to gain what you cannot lose than to gain the world and forfeit your soul.

If we live life on our own terms without Jesus, we will lose it for eternity.

Lastly, the Bible teaches that we will be compensated for what we have given up.

Matthew 19:29 says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (NIV)

What might Jesus be asking you to give up to follow Him?

Remember: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Your thoughts are welcome! You can leave a comment below.

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