Jim Eliot had decided to go to Ecuador, seeking to take God's good news to indigenous tribes who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately he lost his life in the effort, being murdered by the very Indians he sought to teach. Later, however, Jim's widow Elisabeth was able to go to those same aboriginal people and teach them about Jesus.
Years before going to Ecuador, Jim had written in his diary some intriguing words. He wrote, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." That's a powerful statement. It is not foolish to give up this life (which can't be kept) to gain a life that can't be lost (eternal life). Whatever we have to do in this life to obtain eternal life is certainly worth it.
Jesus stated it in even stronger terms. Not only is it not foolish to give up this life to obtain eternal life, it's necessary. Listen to how the writer Luke reports it:
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Luke 9:23-25)
Jesus said that the only way to save our life is to lose it. That is, the only way to obtain eternal life is to let go of this life. We have to be willing to turn our back on all this world offers.
The apostle Paul wrote: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). In another letter, he wrote, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). What he is saying is that any suffering that we go through in this life is nothing compared to an eternity in the presence of God. Think about it. What if we could draw a line that stretched for all eternity? (That's obviously impossible, but use your imagination). In that timeline that has no end, how much space would we dedicate to our life here on earth? If we drew the tiniest dot, a mere point on that line, it would be far too large. This life is nothing compared to the one to come.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Don't spend so much time focused on a life that can't be kept that you miss out on the life that can't be lost. Want to know more? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on our HopeforLife.org blog.
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