But let patience have her perfect work….
— James 1:4
Today I want to talk to you again about patience. Early Church leaders called this remarkable godly trait the “queen of all virtues.” They understood that if you had patience, it was never a question of whether or not you would win a battle — it was only a matter of when you would win it.
That is a true statement that is borne out in Scripture, and Denise and I have certainly proven the spiritual effectiveness of patience in our own lives and ministry. I’ve said so many times that the Greek word for “patience” is one of my favorite words in the New Testament! How we all need this extraordinary quality working in our lives today.
Let’s look at this word “patience” to see why Early Church leaders valued this characteristic so highly.
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As we have seen, the word “patience” comes from the Greek word hupomeno, a compound of the words hupo and meno. The word hupo means under, as to be underneath something that is very heavy. The word meno means to stay or to abide. It describes a resolute decision to remain in one’s spot; to keep a position; or to maintain territory that has been gained. But when the words hupo and meno are compounded to form the word hupomeno, the new word portrays a person who is under some type of heavy load, but who refuses to stray from his position because he is committed to his task. Regardless of how heavy the load, how fierce the opposition, how intense the stress, or how much weight is thrown against him, this person is inwardly resolved that he is not going to move. He is committed to stay put, and he will never surrender for any reason.
In the earliest years of the Church, believers faced long periods of unremitting persecution. They were confronted by a host of hostile powers that were arrayed against them. The pervading immoral culture, pagan religions, secular government, unsaved family and friends — all of these external forces put constant pressure on the early believers to forfeit their faith and return to their old ways.
But the early believers firmly believed that if they had hupomeno, they would survive and outlast all the opposition. This is why they referred to this spiritual characteristic as the “queen of all virtues.” It was believed that if Christians possessed this one virtue, they could survive anything that came against them. Believers understood that if hupomeno was operational in their lives, the question was no longer if they would overcome their battles, but rather when that victory would come.
The sense of determination inherent in the word hupomeno is clearly seen when it is used in a military sense to portray soldiers who were ordered to maintain their positions, even in the face of fierce combat. Their order was to stand their ground and defend every inch of territory that had been gained. To do that, the soldiers resolved to courageously do whatever was required to fulfill the assignment — no matter how difficult the challenge. Their goal was to see that they survived every attack and held their position until they had outlasted the resistance. These soldiers had to indefinitely and defiantly stick it out until the enemy, realizing the soldiers couldn’t be beaten, therefore decided to give up and retreat. Thus, the word hupomeno conveys the idea of being steadfast, consistent, unwavering, and unflinching.
The King James Version translates the Greek word hupomeno as “patience,” but a more accurate rendering of this word would be endurance. A good way to translate this word hupomeno in modern terms is staying power or hang-in-there power. Both of these interpretations correctly express the concept behind hupomeno, because it is the attitude that hangs in there, never gives up, refuses to surrender to obstacles, and turns down every opportunity to quit.
If a person has hupomeno working in his life, it means he is committed to standing by his faith, his task, or a principle of truth, regardless of the price to be paid. This person possesses a steadfast, tenacious attitude that refuses to crumble or concede to defeat. Nothing can change his mind or sway his determination to maintain his position — not external circumstances, other people’s words, or any other attempt to manipulate or change his stance.
Likewise, for you to survive the seemingly unremitting pressure and opposition that Satan or life itself wages against you, it is essential for you to have hupomeno — that persistent, steadfast, tenacious spirit that refuses to crumble or concede to defeat. If you possess this quality, you will not surrender in the face of pressure or capitulate to the forces that attempt to stamp you out. It may seem like you are facing the impossible, but if you refuse to budge or give an inch, the opposition will eventually move off — and you will score a major victory in your fight of faith!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I draw upon the might of Your invincible life within me, and I ask You to help me cultivate Your character trait of this never-give-up kind patient endurance in my life. Help me rely upon and release the power of the Holy Spirit so that I do not bend or surrender in the face of pressure — or capitulate to the forces that have tried to conquer me. I ask You, Holy Spirit, to infuse me with Your mighty power in my inner man so that I will be strong and enduring. Fill me with Your staying power — Your divine hang-in-there power — to outlast the odds and to eventually win the battle that has been arrayed against me. It’s just a matter of time until the opposition folds and goes away, but I need patience to stay in the fight until that glorious moment of victory occurs. I receive Your help today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
By faith, I declare that I have the inner fortitude to outlast every skirmish that the enemy has tried to array against my life. Because the Holy Spirit is inside me, I am tougher than any circumstances I face. I do not bend. I do not break. The Lord is my Strength and my impenetrable Shield; therefore, I do not yield to the pressures that try to move me from His promises for my life. Patience works in me — and that means I have been fortified with God’s very own hang-in-there power that never surrenders an inch of what He has promised to me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you recall a time in your life when you won a battle simply because you were patient and lasted longer than the attack?
- When the pressure let up and you finally won that particular fight, were you glad that you hadn’t thrown in the towel and quit?
- What battles are you facing right now that will require you to exercise patience until you win?