Thursday, March 15, 2012

By the power of. . . .what, exactly?

Society tells us that if we want to do something, if we want to accomplish something, if we want to be something, we must apply ourselves. Our success or failure is determined by our mindset, and by the power of our will.

Dan Millman, a self-help author, sums up this attitude:
"Willpower is the key to success. Successful people strive no matter what they feel by applying their will to overcome apathy, doubt or fear."
Marilyn Manson epitomizes this philosophy:
"I think every man and woman is a star. It's just a matter of realizing and becoming it. It's all a matter of willpower. The world is just how you see it. If you want to have other people tell you how to see it, then you can. But if you want to look at it differently, then it's limitless what you can do. That's why I don't feel the need to be one person. I can be as many people as I like."
As Christians though, we have to recognize this as a failed philosophy. We do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and outside of Him we will fail. In Psalm 143:10, David appeals to God:
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
 Notice the critical difference. It is not our will that is important; it's God's will. True willpower is not exerting our own mind over our individual matter. Rather, it is learning to rely on God's will, to trust in His teachings, to trust in His will. After all, God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you, [...] plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
If we learn to submit to His will, if we answer the question by claiming the power of the blood of Christ, then our paths will be made straight (Proverbs 3:6). After all, as Paul reminds us in Philippians 1:6, the good work begun in us by God will surely be completed. We need to "trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and do not lean on [our] own understanding."

Otherwise, we're reduced to pulling out our magic sword, declaiming our special incantation, and waiting for our trusty pet Cringer to be transformed into a fearless Battle Cat.


  1. Great post. We read something similar in my wife's and I's devotion the other night.

  2. Excellent post. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It's not by my own strength.