Jim Elliot famously journaled, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” There is much wisdom about forsaking temporal things for eternal things in Elliot’s quote. I think the same truth applies to forsaking sinful things for righteous things: “He is no fool who repents from what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
When we choose sin we choose a fool’s paradise. Like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3, we imagine that we are rich, that we’ve prospered, that we need nothing (verse 17). But we cannot keep our dream alive no matter how long we pretend to sleep. The reality is that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Only a fool would build his house on an hallucination.
When we repent with zeal (Revelation 3:19), we turn toward true joy. We turn toward Jesus who makes us rich with gold tried by fire, who clothes us with white garments and covers our shame, who anoints our eyes so that we may see (Revelation 3:18). When we come to Christ, He lines us up with a new reality, a true reality that cannot be lost.
The gospel not only demands that we repent from sin that we cannot keep, it also promises us joy that we cannot lose. To get from the losing to the keeping, we must confess and forsake our sin. It’s the least lukewarm decision we could make.