“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15: 4-5)
My Lord encourages me today to “abide in Him” so that I “bear much fruit,” while reminding me, in no uncertain terms, that apart from Him I can do “nothing.” Thus Christ clears up for me the oft-confusing and discouraging concept of “willpower”: It is not a “power” at all, apart from Him. My “will” is only then a “willpower,” when it is in communion with Him, and connected to other “branches,” also in Him.
Modern-day psychology defines “willpower” as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet a long-term goal.” And psychological studies have shown that several things can strengthen “willpower”: 1. Proper motivation, 2. Having a plan in place, in case of temptation, 3. Self-monitoring, and 4. Practice. This potentially-helpful information leaves several essential questions unanswered: Where does this “ability” to resist temptations come from? What is my “long-term goal”? What is “proper motivation”?
Faith provides me with answers to these questions. My Lord motivates me to seek the long-term goal of salvation, and lends me a helping hand, turning my will into "willpower," when I abide in His grace. I go about my daily routine, with some self-examination, a bit of reading of His word, and asking for His wisdom to “lead me not into temptation.” Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, I pray, - whatever people, places or things I encounter today.