Patience and Perseverance

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the per­severance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10-11).

In the very beginning of his epistle James provides divine insight into the value and essentiality of life’s various trials (James 1:2-8). Near its conclusion, he returns to inspired counsel on the reality and challenge of adversity (5:1-11). As he concludes this section, the prophets’ patience (makrothumia) and Job’s perseverance (hupomone) are given as worthy examples to be imitated during times of trial.

Though it may not be easy to discern in several English translations, these two words—makrothumia and hupomone—are not synonyms.

Makrothumia literally means “long tempered”. It denotes the ideas of forbearance and longsuffering. Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words describes it as “that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish”. It is the antithesis of being quick to anger.

Hupomone literally means “to abide under”. It denotes the ideas of endurance and refusing to quit. Using Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62, this essential quality is when one puts his hand to the plow of discipleship and does not look back. He remains actively involved in the kingdom of God until he reaches the end of the field.

Like the prophets, Jesus was a model of makrothumia When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten in response (1 Peter 2:23).

Like Job, Jesus was a model of hupomone. He endured the cross and the hostility of sinners against Himself (Hebrews 12:2-3). He remained obedient to God and His will to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

When Satan hurls adversity into your life, you have the glorious opportunity to overcome evil with good by exercising patience (makrothumia) like the prophets did and perseverance (hupomone) as Job did.

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Author: jchowning

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