I still remember the Sunday evening service when I first heard of Jim Elliot, missionary to Ecuador who was killed by Waodani warriors who were deceived to believe that Jim and his team were a threat. He gave up what he could not keep to gain what he cannot lose…
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over… flogged… when they arrest you…
19 do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot, missionary
When I read Matthew 10, I couldn’t help but think of Jim. Jim’s quote above sums up a life lived according to Matthew 10. Jim realized that his own life was not his own – that it belonged to God and he couldn’t keep it. We all die sometime. Jim was pursuing something that would never die. He was pursuing something unlosable. Something eternal. He was pursuing people and fishing for men to offer them the unlosable, eternal, hopeful grace of Jesus Christ. And he died doing it.
When Jesus sent out his disciples, he advises them to be innocent and shrewd. Pure and wise. So often, we see innocence and purity without any wisdom or shrewdness. Street smarts usually come with the loss of innocence, and Jesus wants us to be street smart and stay innocent.
Missionaries are on my heart today. Those who willingly put themselves into places where their lives will be in jeopardy, in Papau New Guinea, Pakistan, Haiti, China, Bolivia, Columbia, Philippines, Poland, and many other nations to which Jesus wants the gospel shared.
They get held up, arrested, persecuted, raped, imprisoned, kidnapped, and the list goes on.
We don’t have any idea.
Missionaries have an empowerment of perseverance that is foreign to us. They know what Jesus means when he says, “stand firm” (verse 22). They know what it means to be, “always on your guard,” (verse 17), and they routinely rely on the Spirit to speak through them (verse 20). These verses have become their lives and transformed for service to the gospel of grace.
They will introduce us to people in heaven who are the profit of their investment – people who have gained something eternal that they cannot lose because our missionary friends have been willing to give up something they cannot keep anyway.
They know verse 31 and will not be afraid, because they know they, “are worth more than many sparrows.” They also know that the precious souls in these foreign lands are just as valuable to God, and so they go.
Today, pray for the missionaries,
Grapple with applying the Matthew 10 attitude to the 1st world,
And be willing to give up what we cannot keep.