The Bible uses two different words for patience. The first is the Greek hupomone, which means endurance — buckling down running the long race. This is mostly in relation to situations. We exhibit hupomone when we are waiting for a situation to change or for something to happen. The New Testament Greek Lexicon NAS defines it as “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings. Hebrews 12:1 says “…and let us run with patience [hupomone] the race set before us.” It is an active, yet steady perseverance through times that are difficult.
The opposite of hupomone, then, is giving up. Despondency. Of deciding not to run the race. This may manifest itself in anger, jealousy, depression, and short temper, among other things. It also could be said that there is some cowardice involved — fear that running the race is more difficult than the consequences of giving up.
The other word is the makrothumia, which has more to do with people than with situations. It’s sort of biting your tongue, of refraining from avenging yourself or others. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Makrothumia is about our relationships with other people.
The opposite of makrothumia is wrath or anger or vengeance. Even when we are wronged, God doesn’t call us to these things. He gives us patience and allows us to persevere despite the hurt. Paul says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” It’s our call to allow God to be the one who stands up for us. Makrothumia may manifest itself in anger, sour temper, violence, cutting words, and a lack of grace.
Either way, at the root of both is the idea of unbelief. In the first case, it’s a lack of faith that either the goal at the end of the race is not worthy, or the lack of faith in God to get you to that goal. In the latter, it’s a lack of faith that God has your back. That no matter what this world throws at you, you’re going to be OK.
I know that I suffer from both types of impatience at times. What about you?