“…that you do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:12-15).
The Greek verb makrothumeo is a compound work which combines makros (long or big) and thumeo (passion, wrath). It is the antithesis of someone who is impatient or short-tempered.
In the passage above, the verb appears in verse 15 as “patiently endured” and the noun form is translated “patience” in verse 12. In both instances, the idea of spiritual fortitude—a refusal to quit regardless of how challenging the race of faith had become—is intentional.
A runner who begins a race but does not finish it cannot be the winner. In like manner, Abraham did not experience the blessing of a promised son until he had persevered in his faith. His spiritual fortitude was essential to receiving the promise God made to him.
His spiritual fortitude was the only reasonable course of action for two reasons. First, God—who cannot lie—made the promise. Second, in making the promise to Abraham, God swore by Himself, the greatest possible witness to any oath.
If Abraham’s spiritual fortitude (makrothumos) was the correct course of action for him to take in response to God’s promise of a son, how much more is spiritual fortitude appropriate for we who will inherit God’s promises of heaven and all its glory?