I just get a kick out of saying that word — hupomone (hoop·om·on·ay). Go ahead, say it again! Hupomone! I’ve taken leave of my senses, maybe writing in tongues (a new gift?) you think? Actually, I just got you to say a word of Greek from the New Testament. It’s a compound word of a prefix meaning ‘under’ and a root meaning ‘remain.’ OK, here’s the context… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance (hupomone) the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV) The writer of Hebrews calls for us to take a look at the distance runner as an example of how to live as a Christian. Unlike a sprinter who explodes from the starting block, pouring everything he has into a 100 meter dash, we are called to set a pace that we can maintain, steadily and consistently, living for Jesus– with patience, with endurance, with hupomone! The idea wrapped in the word is holding steady even under intense pressure!
All around us we can find examples of people who start something with gusto- only to collapse in the backstretch! Marriages begin with great romance and fireworks, but too often, fizzle under the strain of kids and bills. People head into new jobs with the intent of being the ‘next best’ only to become a place holder, a burnt out functionary, instead of an inspiring performer. Students go off to college intending to make the Dean’s list and too easily get sidetracked into the three day weekend party life style.
And…. yes, people invite Jesus Christ to become Lord and begin their Believer’s journey with enthusiasm (interesting word, by the way, that comes from a compound word meaning to be full of God). When Believers gather, they are there in church or Bible class. They are discovering God’s will and purpose and cheerfully becoming conformed to Christ Jesus. When they pray, it is with childlike simplicity and earnest faith. Then, again too often, over time the joy evaporates under the heat of temptation and pressure and they turn into pew warmers, preacher critics, with a ‘form of godliness that denies the real Power.’ Their Christianity becomes more of a habit than a source of joyful life.
Hupomone is not about a BIG start, it’s about a faithful finish! I admire ‘finishers,’ people who keep their word, who fulfill their calling, who maintain their Christian witness through joy and sorrow, Summer and Winter, sunshine and rain. One of my favorite pages in the newspaper is the one where they print the pictures of couples celebrating 50, 60, even 70 years of marriage. I used to think they were old people, but now they just look older. Reading their names, I inevitably think about the patience that they showed in living through separations of wartime, difficulties of sickness, joys of raising a family, building a life together. In the denomination that ordained me, 25 year ordination pins are headed out at the Annual conference. Often the contrast in numbers of newly minted preachers and seasoned 25 year veterans is startling, maybe a third or so. Somewhere along the way, many gave up, dropped out.
Are you a finisher?
Do you take time to think about commitments, praying for guidance – and only embracing those that you will see through to completion?
Jesus told a little teaching story about this. Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce? (Luke 14:28-32, The Message) The implied conclusion is – FINISH what you start! That means – hupomone!
Remember that it isn’t “all guts, no glory.” Finishers enjoy what mere starters never find:
the satisfaction of a job well done,
a life well lived,
a victor’s crown!
Need a boost to stay in the race today? Here’s the way, the follow up verse to the one where we started today–
- Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.
And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
(Hebrews 12:2, The Message)
HUPOMONE! Say through the day.
People will think you’re nuts. If they ask, just tell’em you’re speaking Greek. Have fun.