“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Those are the memorable words found in the journal of Jim Elliot, one of the men killed by Waorani warriors (known as Aucas at the time) in Ecuador in 1956. Their sacrifice was memorialized in a Life magazine spread, numerous books including Through Gates of Splendor, and the 2006 major motion picture End of the Spear.

I was reminded of Elliot’s words as I read this passage this morning: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Matt. 16: 25,26.

In what ways do we men try to save our lives? By believing our significance is based on the gaining of Power, the accrual of Possessions, and the earning of Prestige. All of us who have pursued any of these knows the truth: they cannot lead to true significance and joy.  Just watch those men who continue to give all of their effort to get just a little more of each. These goals do not satisfy.

What is it that we cannot lose?

Inner joy. Joy that is based on inner confidence rather than outward striving; joy that is deeper than external circumstances.

A lasting legacy. A life lived for the benefit of others; a life that brings outward blessing rather than selfish gain; a life impact that lives on after we are gone.

An eternal reward. The reward of knowing that our significance rests in who God is and what he has done; an eternal reward from the hand of God that is based on faith rather than effort.

The man whose life is based on these truths is no fool.