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Hidden Treasure: Is It Worth The Risk?

Updated on October 7, 2012

No Guarantees

Life is risky business. There are never any guarantees of success.

Hang on a minute—we want guarantees. No, let’s be entirely forthright for a moment: We demand guarantees.

We want to know beyond doubt that if we take a chance it’s going to accomplish something—if we stick our neck out we want strict assurances that, metaphorically speaking, our heads won’t get chopped off.

Consider the tale about a man who took a risk and went into business on a shoestring—he tripled his investment. Now he’s got to figure out what to do with three shoestrings.

That poor attempt at humor serves to remind us of the universal nature of risk—risk is risky, which causes us to ask: Risk—is it worth it? Is the potential reward worth the risk?

Even as those questions rattle around our brain, we need to have a clear comprehension that everything has a cost. By intentional action or default inaction, we assess the risk and reward in every aspect of life.

Our choices define us.

Count The Cost

Let’s be clear: The walking by faith necessity of the Christian life involves costs and benefits—the Bible NEVER presents the faith-journey as ease, comfort, and safety personified.

On the contrary, it’s challenging to be true to the dictates of Scripture—it’s hard to forgive people—it stretches us to love our enemies—it’s not a walk in the park to conquer our ingrained weaknesses—it requires genuine honesty to repent of sin—it’s difficult to follow-through and put spiritual disciplines in place in our lives.

This is where our demand for guarantees really kicks in. If we are going to implement the upside down principles of Scripture, then we want to see and experience tangible results.

No setbacks—no hiccups—no glitches—no bumps or potholes along the way, thank you very much. We want to know that the Bible works.

If we put forward every effort to overcome evil with good, then we hang onto a reasonable expectation that good will triumph according to our plans and timing. We so easily forget the big picture of eternity—we so easily forget that God’s sovereignty operates on a timetable seldom in sync with the temporary nastiness of our fallen world—we so easily forget that our faith-journey is about trusting God every step of the way, especially in those angst-ridden periods when the steadfast application of Biblical principles doesn’t appear to make any headway or difference.

Following Christ can be costly. It can involve danger, toil, and sorrow—it can result in discouraging circumstances. Jesus counseled his first disciples that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We need to heed that caution and give it considerable credence. Fact is, the more faithful we are in our obedience, the more likely that we’ll slam up against problems, failures, adversity, and disappointments.

Jesus knew that, which is why he warned his followers to count the cost before embarking on the mystical faith-journey of being a disciple. Yet, he also provided balance to assure us that it is worth it. Yes, we need to count the cost, but we also need to behold the reward.

Take a fresh look at a parable Jesus told about the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 13:44 - NIV

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Is D. A. Carson correct--do those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it?

See results

Freely Or Grudgingly

These words of Jesus are not about a man’s ethics—was it morally right for him to buy the field without telling its owner what he had discovered?

That’s a query that doesn’t really matter because it’s outside the realm of the story’s pithy point. It’s about the enormous, life-altering value of the treasure, and the lengths the man was willing to go to obtain it.

As the New Testament scholar D. A. Carson put it: “The kingdom is worth infinitely more than the cost of discipleship, and those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it.”

Is that our attitude? Are we not only willing but glad and even joyful to give everything we have for the kingdom? Do we regard the present benefits and future rewards of knowing Christ to be so tremendous that we have no hesitation in giving of ourselves and our possessions?

Do we freely release our time, talents, and treasures? Is our attitude generous and open-ended? Or do we grumble, complain, and give only grudgingly?

Do we tally up the cost, and then quietly decide that somehow we could out-give God? Do we analyze the risk, and then pay lip-service to trusting and obeying? Do we act as if God asks more of us than he intends to give us in return?

Jim Elliot - 1952
Jim Elliot - 1952

No Fool

Jim Elliot—1927-1956—was a man with a zeal for God’s Word. He felt compelled to go to South America, and attempt to evangelize the Woadani people, native Amerindians of the Amazonian Region of Ecuador.

The effort—known as Operation Auca—was dangerous and riddled with risks. Elliot approached the task with a timeless truth strapped around his heart. His journal entry of October 28, 1949 contains a handful of powerful words: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

A page from Jim Elliot's journal - October 28, 1949
A page from Jim Elliot's journal - October 28, 1949

On January 8, 1956 at a spot along the Curaray River, a band of ten warriors attacked—Jim Elliot and his partners in ministry were slaughtered. His life and death gave much significance to his potent words.

I have a plaque hanging in a prominent place that continually reminds me that walking by faith means keeping my eyes fixated on what really matters. It’s a picture of a first-century fishing boat common on the Sea of Galilee that has this phrase inscribed above it: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

That's a streamlined version of the sentence written by Elliot—it echoes the perspective Paul of Tarsus proclaimed from a jail cell: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

For Paul of Tarsus and Jim Elliot, the risk was worth the reward. The hidden treasure of knowing Christ was worth surrendering their lives to him—the hidden treasure of knowing Christ was worth being obedient regardless of the cost or consequences.

Is that the message of our lives? Do we embody the knowledge that the reward far exceeds the risk?


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    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Cathy - Thank you for stopping in & sharing thoughtful comments. Glad you enjoyed the visit. Blessings.

    • cathykennedy profile image

      Cathy Kennedy 

      8 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      How deeply inspiring and touching. What a reminder to God's children, that because of our decision to follow Christ this doesn't insure against a trouble-free life on earth.

      Thankfully, with Christ in my life the troubles I embark are more manageable because of Jesus' presence. This gives me the strength and peace of mind to keep-on-keeping-on, even when I don't want to.

      Living in Christ's footsteps guarantee us nothing here on earth, but the pay-out in the after-life is awesome. Jesus paid the price, so we wouldn't have to pay the cost. God bless!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      pmccray - Thank you. Your comments are exactly right & worthy of a loud AMEN. Blessings.

    • pmccray profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      The treasure is surely worth the risk, because we as Christians must have faith. The treasure is not in mankind it is a promise from the Lord are Father, who never lies. Excellent inspirational hub.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Cari Jean - Thank you so much. No, I haven't seen that one yet. I need to rent it & give it a look. Elliot's story is indeed compelling & challenging. Blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      A M - Thank you. I appreciate your perspective & thoughtful comments. Blessings.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      8 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Ken - great hub, once again! Jim Elliot's story is featured in a movie called, "End of the Spear" - have you seen it? The movie also portrays Jim's son who completely forgave those warriors who killed his father and ended up becoming very good friends with the leader of that tribe. Very powerful message.

    • A M Werner profile image

      Allen Werner 

      8 years ago from West Allis

      Fantastic read Ken. Jim Elliot's story is indeed sobering and inspiring. Giving it all is indeed a openness that leads people down paths they most likely would never have imagined they could journey - dangerous, untamed lands. But if the journey inevitably leads to salvation, then the rocks and obstacles on the path never mattered. Peace.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Loves To Read - Thank you. Your words of affirmation are much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 

      8 years ago

      Ken, what a beautiful hub. This is the true statement of a man sold out for God. There is nothing here on earth that we need to hang onto more than our soul for it is the only part that goes with us after we depart this life. The biggest decision that we need to face is where our soul will go. This also should not be negotiable..

      Peace and Blessings

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Pamela - Thank you for stopping in & sharing thoughtful & encouraging words. Blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      menomania - You're welcome. I appreciate your words & perspective. Blessings.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Ken, This hub is very inspiring and I wondered if it was the story I remember where the men were killed but the wives actually stayed after their husbands were slain and taught the children for the rest of their lives as they believed that this was the mission God had for them. That would surely take strong faith.

      In church this morning the pastor preached on patience (or our lack of) and used many scriptures our of Job. Job never turned away for the God despite all his troubles. Life isn't always easy but to follow Jesus, ---yes, it is worth it.

    • menomania profile image


      8 years ago from Elmira, New York

      Thank you Ken for an inspiring and provacative hub. We should ask ourselves this question every day, Does the reward out weigh the risks? And of course the answer is, Yes. May we go forward, no matter the cost, running the race for the ultimate prize. It will be worth it all!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Dee aka Nonna - You're welcome. Thank you for sharing. Your words are much appreciated. Blessings.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 

      8 years ago

      Thank you! I'm am reminded of two things as I read (1)when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I'll just bet there were many, many students...(2)every time I see a picture of the footprints in the sand I think of the many times I know I was being carried.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Tamarajo - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, it is always a good thing to ask tough questions. Blessings.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      8 years ago

      You ask great questions. They are necessary tough questions we all need to ask ourselves.

      I thought also of the parable of the talents. I always felt the last guy who buried his in the field was unwilling to take the risk. His assumptions about God prevented Him from considering the possible gains. Is that what prevents us from taking our leap of faith wrong assumptions about the goodness of God and His plan for us.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, Dave. Good word. Blessings.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Brother Ken: There is nothing in life that is or can be guaranteed. You may fall asleep as your human self, at night, and never awaken.

      We do have one who guarantees us if we follow Him and try and do things in life His way, that we are insured and guaranteed, eternal salvation, and the right to call Him "Brother" as well as to call God, "Father" "Abba". The question remains, do we want this for ourselves.

      Brother Dave.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      allpurposeguru - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing from your heart. Peace & much encouragement to you.

    • allpurposeguru profile image

      David Guion 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Your hub is pretty much what God told me last night. Here's hoping I praise more and grumble less today, even though it looks to be as hard a slog as yesterday. As always, thanks for sharing your insights.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      bayoulady - Thank you. "How many of us will ever have the treasure of true forgiveness?" That is a thought-provoking, soul-searching question.

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Wonderful,Ken. I read that book written by Jim Elliot's wife years ago, and how they continued that ministry after he was killed by members of the tribe.How many of us will ever have the treasure of true forgiveness? I love your plaque!

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Fred - Yes, it is the heart of the gospel, which should always challenge & stretch us. Complacency or status quo thinking has no place in discipleship. Peace & blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Dusty - I wonder some of the same things about myself. Thank you for sharing from your heart with honesty. Peace, blessings & much encouragement to you.

    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 

      8 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      This is the heart of the gospel message. It is the call to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. It was the same for our loving Savior who for the glory set before Him was willing to endure the cross. You have challenged each of us who are blessed to have read this to examine ourselves. If we are holding back anything it is because we don't have a clear enough vision of the value of what is promised to those who love God. Thank you for having the courage to cut so deeply into the very heart of the matter!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Ken, an eye opening article toward thought of what I do/have done in regard to the cost, how little thought was given on my part to much I have received anyway. I must give much reflection and attempt to understand how it is that God has allowed me to grasp at the wind and fail into success. It's hard to understand. I live in the best place and style that I could dream of, only I didn't dream of it or seek it out, it just seemed to happen despite my original intentions to profit for more cash, and never took time to ask for guidance or weigh the cost. I must have done something right, only I don't know what.

      You have presented many questions I need to think on and pray on as well as seek into the pages of the book of life to see what is said. Thanks for rattling my cage and bringing my blessings into mind so they can be examined and be thankful for. God truly works in mystery, Peace and God Bless, Dusty

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      samsons1 - Thank you for your generous words. I appreciate the affirmation. Blessings & much encouragement to you. And yes, God is good all the time & all the time God is good.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Richieb799 - You're very welcome. Thank you for your kind & encouraging words. Glad you stopped in & enjoyed the visit. Peace & blessings.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      RevLady - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Much appreciated. Blessings.

    • samsons1 profile image


      8 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and beautiful! Well written, inspiring hub. Jim Elliots's words should resound in the hearts of faithful Christians every moment of every day. God is good, ALL the time.

      Blessings to you my friend...

    • Richieb799 profile image


      8 years ago from Cardiff, Wales UK

      I love reading your hubs when I get the chance, I find this one inspiring..especially as I was having a stressful end to the week and feeling ill. It reminded me to face struggles with a joyful expectation about the rewards to come. Thanks again.

    • RevLady profile image


      8 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      It is true that our Lord insisted that we count the cost before we begin any undertaking.

      "Following Christ can be costly. It can involve danger, toil, and sorrow—it can result in discouraging circumstances.” So True and it usually does.

      But when I think about the CROSS, the cost of discipleship is meager.

      Thank you for a stimulating hub Ken and sharing the faith of one who understood what following Christ really meant and chose Him.

      Peace and joy,

      Forever His,

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, carolina muscle.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      An inspiring story, Ken.. about a brave man and his faith.


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