Jim ElliotHaving recently finished the rigours of college life, he was enjoying the free time living with his parents allowed.

Only the day before he had finished reading missionary David Brainerd’s journals and wrote “I have prayed for new words, explosive, direct, simple words.”

Sixty years ago today, as he sat down to write in his journals, God answered Jim Elliot’s prayer with words that were indeed “explosive.”

On 28 October, 1949, Jim Elliot wrote:

He is No Fool

His entry is copied below:

One of the great blessings of heaven is the appreciation of heaven on earth—Ephesian truth.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Luke 16:9: “…that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

Scripture leaves so many stories untold. Think of the calloused heart of the priest who stooped over, squinting in the dimness of the sanctuary, looking for the thirty pieces of silver Judas cast there, pausing to see if he had found all thirty. Too legal to put the money in the treasury since it was blood money, they wax very philanthropic and buy with it a field to bury strangers in.

How cold the heart of man! How feelingless and obdurate!

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” It has pleased God, in these last sixty years, to use these words in a powerful way.

I firmly believe that it was not Jim Elliot’s death that impacted the world so powerfully. It was the life behind the death. He gave what he could not keep to gain what he cannot lose.

I am reflecting today on these questions:

  • Am I expecting to influence others through some “event,” or do I realise that it is my life which has the most impact?
  • Am I foolishly clinging to things that I will someday lose anyway?
  • How highly do I value the things that I cannot lose?

Celebrate this day with me by reflecting again on the truth of these words.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.


  1. RoSeZ 28 October, 2009 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Did you steal my photo?

  2. Jason Harris 28 October, 2009 at 11:40 am - Reply

    It is from the Jim Elliot Archives of Wheaton College.

  3. RoSeZ 28 October, 2009 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I know that – but that picture there with the red border thing around it is still my one. Riiiigggghhhhtttt…?

  4. Steven Mock 28 October, 2009 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    It is interesting to me that Jim Elliot was NOT the first person to write or say these words. For example, Philip Henry (1631-1696), father of renowned Matthew Henry, is known for saying “He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.” This reference predates Elliot by 300 years!!! I wonder if Elliot got it from Henry?!

  5. Ben 28 October, 2009 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Elliot’s quote usually reminds me of Jesus: “For whoever would save his life will lose it…”) :)

  6. Jason Harris 28 October, 2009 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Wow. I did not know that Steven. Would be interesting to know if he was paraphrasing Henry. Not sure how we could find out…

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