If God so clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you… Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?”… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Mat 6:30-33
Seek the extension of God’s rule over more people and over more of their lives. Seek this first before all else—before money, before profession, before status, before power, before pleasure, before security, even before basic daily needs. This is not a suggestion to be considered, but a command to be obeyed—a command of the High King.
But it is not onerous. Lose your life—give up grasping for career, money, status, power, pleasure, and the rest for Jesus’ and the gospel’s sake—and you will save it, you will gain abundant life. You will find the sheer joy of knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. (Mar 8:35-36; Jn 10:10; 17:3) This does not mean going doing full time ministry. It means giving over every aspect of life to honor and please God—work, money, marriage, family, status, power, everything.
Jim Elliot said of this exchange, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” And he lived it, filled with enjoyment of God and his grace.[pullquote2 align=”right” cite=”Jim Elliot”]“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”[/pullquote2]
As God awakened in me a heart for his global mission as a young man, Jim Elliot became my hero and model. His love for Christ and for his mission fueled my fire. Jim’s heart was captivated by Jesus, his life filled with joy from Christ’s staggering grace and glory. He loved to proclaim Christ and his grace and was gladdened every time he felt God’s anointing.
But he was no killjoy. Jim enjoyed life to the full. He enjoyed learning and had fun. On his trash route, he batted down seagulls so that he could practice taxidermy on them. He enjoyed people. And he loved to play jokes on friends. His life was filled with stories of vitality. Underlying and feeding his enjoyment of life was His wonder at Christ’s dying love and grace. And this he fueled by meditating daily on Scripture, recording his thoughts in a journal. Captivated by Jesus, feeding on Scripture fed and deepened that captivation.
At Wheaton College, his missions understanding and conviction grew. He regularly challenged other stu-dents to greater missions commitment. He developed a burden for a violent tribe in Ecuador with no knowledge of Christ, called Aucas by outsiders. He mobilized others to join him in reaching them. In time, they all went and patiently developed a relationship with them in the remote jungle using a small plane to exchange gifts with by lowering a rope below the plane. Finally, believing the people were ready to wel-come them, all five flew in and landed. But fear overcame the Aucas and they speared them all to death which they accepted without resistance for the sake of the gospel though they had a gun.
Incredibly and supernaturally, several of their wives continued the work. In time they won the trust of the Auca community which had killed their husbands. They learned that the tribe called themselves the Waodani. Because of their sacrifice and the gospel’s power, the long-awaited breakthrough came and Waodani began coming to Christ and being radically transformed.
Many without eternal perspective call Jim’s early death before seeing the desired results “tragic.” But Jim did not. “God, I pray…, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” Then, a short time before he died, he wrote in his diary, “Only I know that my own life is full. It is time to die, for I have had all a young man can have–at least this young man can have. I am ready to meet Jesus.”
Jim found only joy and fullness of life in seeking God’s kingdom first, in making the life exchange. And his life has had an enormous impact in the latter part of the 20th century. And this is the consistent testimony of Christians who make this exchange.
Jesus is calling us to give our whole lives as everyday to incarnate and proclaim him to all peoples. So, will we not respond by submitting our whole lives—profession, money, life goals, marriage, status, every-thing—to Christ’s purposes? And will we not say “Yes” to anywhere Christ leads for the sake of his glory?
I never made a sacrifice. Away with the word sacrifice. It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say, rather, it is a privilege. — David Livingstone
I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. — Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf
It is sweet to be nothing and less than nothing that Christ may be all in all.
—David Brainerd, early missionary to native Americans