A friend of mine did the unthinkable (at least to me!) on Saturday. Josh completed an Iron Man™ triathalon. He pushed his body to the limits over a span of about 14 hours. An Iron Man experience consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. I tracked him online, each accomplishment filling me with amazement! “How can he do that?” I wondered aloud many times. So my admiration and congratulations go to Josh on an accomplishment of endurance.
Sometimes our Christian life becomes something of a test on that order, doesn’t it? If you and I are serious about our discipleship, we live against the stream, our lives at variance with the culture. There are days when we feel that we are being pushed beyond our limitations. Paul teaches a quality of character that is a critically important. Patient endurance, the choice to persevere through difficult times, leads us to maturity and fruitfulness.
The word in the first language of the New Testament, Greek, is hupomone (hoop·om·on·ay). It’s a compound word, the prefix meaning ‘under’ and the root meaning ‘remain.‘ It is found in this passage from Hebrews – “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,” (12:1) Here we see the distance runner given as an example of how to live as a Christian. Unlike a sprinter who explodes from the starting block, pouring everything she has into a 100 meter dash, Christians are called run their race – steadily and consistently living for Jesus— with patience, with endurance (hupomone)!
Ever started something with great enthusiasm, only to collapse before the finish line? Most of us can remember some time or place where we quit.
Marriages that begin with great romance can go flat, the love buried by a mountain of work.
Students go off to college with great intentions and too many get sidetracked into the three day weekend party life style.
That garden we planted demands work in heat, with bugs, and we let it go to weeds.
And… some people invite Jesus Christ to become Lord and begin the marathon with the finish line in Heaven only to lose the joy, to let the full life of the Spirit, turn into the dull life of religion.
“Hupomone” is not about a BIG start, it’s about a faithful finish!
Let’s be ‘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. Jesus told a 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)
Pleasing the Lord and finding His best, in life and in eternity, will demand “hupomone” – not the grim determination of dutiful compliance, but enthusiastic engagement with life sustained by the Spirit at work! 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 is the word from the Word. “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! You can endure much more than you think – with God’s strength that He pours into you.
(a remix of an old favorite!)
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name
Christ alone cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil
He is Lord Lord of all
When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne
Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury© 2011 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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