Saints’ CVs – Jim Elliot

‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’. While these words sound like they may have flowed from the quill of the apostle Paul himself, they were in fact penned by a 22-year-old Jim Elliot while still a college student in the USA in 1949!

In early 2008 I read The Shadow of the Almighty,a collection of Jim Elliot’s personal letters and journal excerpts, and came to realize that these were not just the empty words of a philosopher or dreamer, but were actually the reality whereby this young man lived every day of his short life until it was eventually taken from him at the age of just 28 years by the Auca Indian she was endeavouring to reach with the gospel.From an early age Jim Elliot had a single-minded desire to serve God,and to reach out to the lost with the gospel. Everything else in his life was governed by this desire and it particularly challenged my heart to read the inner thoughts of a man with exceptionally high standards of Christian living. Elliot had a strong interest in pioneering gospel work in foreign lands; and his heart appears to have been fixed on South America for a number of years before he eventually felt the call of the Lord to serve in Ecuador. This was a man who was prepared to give everything,including ultimately his life, in order that he might reach some of the most unlikely people in the world with the transforming power of the gospel. Reading of such all-consuming determination and passion called me to question my own zeal for the gospel and inspired me to give myself more wholeheartedly to reaching those all around me with the good news of salvation.

Jim Elliot was a man who truly ‘counted all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord’, Phil. 3. 8.His attitude towards many of the things of life which we may describe as perfectly legitimate was that they were nothing more than distractions from his life’s ambition of serving, pleasing and knowing his God. His attitudes towards education, sport, entertainment, women and money, along with his views on prayer, Bible study, the local assembly, gospel outreach and supporting foreign missions seemed radical, revolutionary and awe inspiring,yet the reality is that they were none of those things. They were merely the views and attitudes of a devoted Christian living above the average watered-down standard of Christianity which was common-place both then and now.The lessons and challenges which came to me daily as I read of such a Christ-like young man are too numerous to list here. To read of such a life without being moved, challenged and inspired would be impossible. Jim Elliot was one who lived for Christ, and one who ultimately died for Christ. What are you and I prepared to give for Christ, and for the sake of the gospel?

While we may never be called to die for Christ, like Jim Elliot, each one of us is called to live for Him,and the distinction between the two is perhaps not as clear cut as we may think.For to live for Christ is to die for Christ! We must‘die daily’ as the apostle Paul put it, 1 Cor. 15.31! Die to sin, die to self, and die to the world,in order that we might live unto Christ and be used by Him to effectively reach precious lost souls!

How much our dark and lost world needs a new generation of ‘Jim Elliots’ today, those who are prepared to give their lives wholeheartedly for the furtherance of the gospel! May you and I be part of this new generation!

Further Reading:

  • The Shadow of the Almighty, Elisabeth Elliot.
  • Phil. 3. 8.
  • 1 Cor. 15. 31.