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September 16, 2014


To lose your life for something greater

Perhaps you have heard the famous old saying by missionary Jim Elliot “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Not long after writing those words Jim Elliot, along with his companions, were murdered by the spears of the very men they had come to minister to. He knew the risks before he ever stepped foot into those jungles. He knew that he was laying down what he could not keep anyways. He knew that if he was to lose his life something far greater awaited him beyond this life that no jungle spear, tropical sickness or any earthly thing could threaten to take away. And so he made the best investment that an individual can possibly make and embraced with open arms what ultimately he could not lose.

If Jim Elliot was right, what do his words imply about the man or woman who does the opposite? What about the person that doesn’t spend his life for a worthy cause? What about the man that doesn’t invest his life, doesn’t lay it down for this ultimate treasure that he cannot lose? What about the man that spends his life investing in one thing after another that he cannot keep? The individual that spends nearly all of his waking minutes, days and hours just trying to get a little bit more and a little bit more of what he will be forced to abandon. The one that day after day invests in and hoards and stores and claws for just one more bit of what he will ultimately leave behind.


What did Jesus say?

What did Jesus say about such an individual? In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus tells a short story to His disciples about His perception of such a man. “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ Jesus didn’t beat around the bush when He spoke of this type of man to His disciples. “You fool!” He says in reference to the individual that hoards and hoards for the future and puts everything he has into his own bigger barns and bigger houses and bigger savings and more resources for his own personal comfort.


But isn’t this nearly an exact description of the type of attitude and perspective that fills our society and is even accepted in our churches today? It’s all about retirement, the 401k, the hundreds of thousand or even millions of dollars that I will live off of when I am old. And even worse, the church itself sets the model for this type of mindset with its multi-million dollar buildings, mega-churches and five hundred dollar suit-wearing preachers leading the way.



Ultimate treasure

“You Fool!” Jesus says. Don’t you understand that every single bit of it will be left to someone else? Don’t your realize that your are wasting your life on something that you cannot keep! Missionaries such as Jim Elliot and those individuals that are even today laying it all on the line for the spread of the gospel and living day in and day out wherever they are at for the spreading of the glory of God in their communities are simply those that have realized a very simple truth. The truth that, the joy that awaits us at the end of the race, whenever that may be, is far greater than any lesser joy that a life can be invested in.  



“Wikipai had made the long hike down to Taomi not merely to represent his people to the outsiders for the sake of material gain but mainly to begin teaching his people about a new talk that they had not yet heard. He wanted the people that had gathered there to also hear the things he had heard about the great Creator Spirit. With his whole heart he desired for them also to know about the words of the leaf book that had changed him and revolutionized his life. Wikipai knew that what his people ultimately needed was not the leaf paper money of the outsiders. There was way more at stake than just material gain. They needed the words from the leaf book of the Creator One even more. He had set out to bring them these words.” – From page 11 of Prophecies of Pale Skin  

“With the little bit of strength he had remaining Wikipai motioned to us he wanted to speak. Very slowly and in almost a whisper he began: “Oh friend, do not cry for me. Do not cry for me. Yes, it is true that my body is wasting away. I am like a jungle stream that has not been fed by the rain for many days. But although my body is very weak, my spirit is strong. I know what the Great Creator One’s Son has done for me. And if I die here in this place, then that is what the Creator One has chosen for me. I am ready to go. Do not cry for me.”- From page 14 of Prophecies of Pale Skin



We still have doubts and fears, days of discouragement and trials but deep down inside we know that what we will experience in the future and are already beginning to experience is the first tastes of an Ultimate Treasure that we welcome with open arms. A Joy that we cannot lose even in death!




  1. What are you living for?
  2. Is the thing that you are living for something that you cannot lose?
  3. Is the thing that you are spending your days on and centering your weeks around something that you are willing to die for?
  4. What if you found out at this very moment that tomorrow was your day of death. Would you look back with regret on what you have invested your life in up to this point?

Read Luke 12:33-34 and ponder these verses and how they relate to your own life.



Used with permission. © 2014, D.S. Phillips 

The Leaf Book and the Crossed Wood is a thought provoking study on the effects of the Bible and the Cross in an isolated culture in which they had never been previously introduced. Based on the true story found in Prophesies of Pale Skin.

Along with his family, D.S. Phillips lived and worked among the very remote Dao tribe in South East Asia. The Dao tribe is a people group that before they arrived had no written alphabet for their dialect, not a single verse of scripture available to them and no church or religious organisation of any type working among them. 

If you would like to purchase the book go to: The Leaf Book and the Crossed Wood


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“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” 

- Romans 10:14-15

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