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Willpower, Won’t Power and the Lord’s Power

Somebody, in discussing their desire to gorge on a favorite dessert, complained, "It's not will power I lack. It's won't power." Why is the battle with temptation so strong and so long? Decades ago Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" told us that when she did wrong, "The devil made me do it." But the Bible brings the reason for our endless battle with temptation closer to home in James 1:14-15: But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." Consider the following story.

Toad baked some cookies. "These cookies smell very good," said Toad. He ate one. "And they taste even better." Toad ran to Frog's house. "Frog, Frog," cried Toad, "taste these cookies I baked." Frog ate one of the cookies and said, "These are the best cookies I've ever eaten!" Frog and Toad ate many, many cookies, one after another. "Maybe," Frog said (with a cookie in his mouth), "we should stop eating cookies. We will soon be sick." Toad replied, "You are right, Frog. Let us eat one last cookie and then we will stop." And so they did. But many cookies were left in the bowl. "Frog," said Toad, "let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop." And so they did. "We must stop eating!" cried Toad as he ate yet another last cookie. "Yes," said Frog, reaching for another cookie, "we need willpower."Toad asked, "What is willpower?" Frog replied, "Willpower is trying hard not to do something you really want to do." Toad asked, "You mean like trying hard not to eat all these cookies?" Frog said, "Right." And Frog put the cookies in a box, saying, "There. Now we will not eat any more cookies." 

"But we can open the box," said Toad.  "That is true," said Frog. Frog tied some strings around the box. "There," he said. "Now we will not eat any more cookies." Toad objected, "But we can cut the string and open the box." Frog replied, "That is true." Frog got a ladder. He put the box of cookies up on a high shelf "There," said Frog. "Now we will not eat any more cookies." Toad thought only a moment and said, "But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box.' Frog admitted, "That is true." Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf.  He cut the string and opened the box. Frog took the box outside.  He shouted in a loud voice, "Hey, birds, here are cookies!" Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away with them. Toad said sadly, "Now we have no more cookies to eat. Not even one." Frog said, "That's right. But we have lots and lots of willpower." Toad said, "You can keep all the willpower, Frog. I'm going home now to bake a cake." Temptation is here to stay. That being so, let us arm ourselves with this truth: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Willpower, won't power, and the Lord's power — all have a role to play in keeping temptation at bay. Remember: when you meet temptation, turn to the right! Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ