This verse was part of my reading this morning:
“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” James 5:8
I had to dig in, so headed over to crosswalk.com. This is a great resource for online study tools that are free–and much faster than flipping pages, too!
That phrase, “strengthen your hearts,” really struck me this morning. I could use some heart strengthening; how about you?
But first I wanted a look at “patience.” It comes from the Greek word, “makrothumeo.” The definition is “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart; to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.”
Wow. Yup, that’s patience, all right. Isn’t the first part of the definition kindof funny? “To be of a long spirit.” I think my spirit is kindof short, lately. I’m not doing well if the measuring stick is the rest of that definition. Ai yi yi. Lord, help!
So then I looked up “strengthen.” According to Strong’s, this comes from the Greek “sterizo,” which means “to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant, confirm, one’s mind.” And “heart” comes from “kardia,” which (along with the physical heart) “denotes the centre of all physical and spiritual life; the vigour and sense of physical life; the centre and seat of spiritual life; the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavours; of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence; of the will and character; of the soul so far as it is affected and stirred in a bad way or good, or of the soul as the seat of the sensibilities, affections, emotions, desires, appetites, passions.”
So the instruction, then, is to not to lose heart, but to be brave in troubles, to bear the offenses and injuries of others patiently, and to be slow in vengeance. Wow. This is so *not* what I am on my own! And we are also supposed to firmly fix and confirm the seat of our spiritual lives, the seat of our thoughts and appetites and endeavours and *soul.*
Maybe the second part is the key to the first?
I have a sneaking suspicion that if we fix our minds on Jesus, it will cause our hearts to be steadfast, and that will allow us to achieve the ever-elusive goal of patience.
“May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people … so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.”
I Thess. 3:12-13
To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click 31 Days of Encouragement!