Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Willpower is NOT your super-power

Monthly theme: Physical Vitality

Reading time: two minutes

I never met a cookie I didn’t like.

And have you ever noticed that cookies never travel alone? Wherever you find one, there’s always another lurking about somewhere close.

Like everyone else, I’ve tried the, “Oh, I really shouldn’t,” willpower version of eating healthy. That never works. This month we’re spending time in the “No Should” zone, exploring gospel motivations for physical self-care.

Children of God have better resources for resisting temptation. Fighting off the lusts of the flesh, our physical urges and passions, need more strength than any of us are able to muster.

Because willpower is NOT your super-power.

Paul throws a beautiful one-two Law-Gospel punch in Ephesians 4. He talks about those who do not know Christ, how they are driven by their bodily passions and “lust for more” (pleonexia in Greek). It turns out we’re all pleonexics.

So the Apostle reminds us, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way” (Ephesians 4:20). Then follows the beautiful baptismal encouragement: “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:22-24).

Learning the new life practices of eating healthy, caring for our bodies with rest and exercise, casting our anxieties and cares on a Savior who loves us, is now possible.

Not by willpower, but by the power of the gospel of Christ. It’s Second Article motivation for new living.

My passions and lusts no longer master me. Like Luther said in the catechism, “Jesus Christ… is my Lord.” The new life is a life of “everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness,” led by the Spirit, joyfully honoring my Lord in all I do.

I look forward to the heavenly feast when this struggle with the hungers of this old body will finally be won.

Until then, the battle continues.

Those cookies will continue to mount their sneak attacks on me. (Did you try the “Adventure-fuls,” the new Girl Scout cookie for 2022? I did. They travel in packs.)

But thanks be to God, there is grace. Every day, “Have mercy on me, Lord.” Every day being made new in my baptismal identity in Christ. Every day rejoicing that I am a new creation, made for blessedness.

And every day, living in thankfulness for the wonderful creation that I am, body and soul, child of God, follower of Jesus, forgiven, striving forward, honoring God in my body.

Grace is your super-power.

Grace to begin each day in the promise of His unchanging love. Grace to live in gratitude for life and strength and health. Grace to say grace at mealtime, enjoying the good gifts of the harvest.

And grace to munch the occasional cookie along the way. Or two!

Thanks for reading.