Won’t-Power or Willpower?
‘Everybody likes to be right, but few like to do right!’

Someone once said, “Well, I have plenty of won’t-power, but not the willpower to implement the won’t-power.”

Of all creatures on Earth, man alone possesses a will—the power to decide for himself. Animals are not free moral agents and cannot choose. They are merely slaves of instinct. Man is a free moral agent. Human beings must overcome the pulls of the human flesh through the power of will. Human willpower must be exercised!

When you exercise willpower, your will becomes stronger. Every time you make yourself do what you know is right instead of what is wrong, you strengthen your will. Every time you weaken and do what you know is wrong, you erode your power of will. I remember Herbert W. Armstrong often said, “Everybody likes to be right, but few like to do right!”

In What Science Can’t Discover About the Human Mind, Mr. Armstrong wrote that God created man to develop the same holy, righteous character He possesses. In the booklet, he defines holy, righteous character: “Such character is the ability in a single entity to come to comprehend and distinguish the true values from the false, the right way from the wrong, to choose the right and reject the wrong, and, with power of will, to do the right and resist the evil” (emphasis added).

Do we sometimes suffer from “won’t-power” where we won’t do what is right by exercising willpower? The development of firm willpower is an important key to overcoming Satan in this end time.

All of the great men of the Bible were, without exception, men of strong purpose and iron will! They set their minds to go in a certain direction, to obey God, and they followed through. Consider Noah. He had to be strong-willed in order to resist the taunts, jeers and criticisms that were leveled at him. Imagine people saying, Who has ever seen a rain that could engulf the whole world? How ridiculous of old Noah to even contemplate building a gigantic ship here in the desert!

Consider the iron will of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob wrestled all night with God (Genesis 32:24-32). Joseph exercised tremendous willpower to resist the sexual advances of an Egyptian temptress (Genesis 39:7-20). What about Moses and his resolve? It took a very strong-willed person to lead millions of unconverted, grumbling, rebellious Israelites through the wilderness from Egypt for 40 long years.

King David also set his will to obey God. David said, “I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3). Elijah and many other Old Testament prophets were likewise men of strong wills. Above anyone else, Jesus Christ set the best example. He set His will to obey His heavenly Father so much that He never once veered off the course He had chosen.

God’s Word also records men of little or no willpower—Bible weaklings. Esau didn’t have enough willpower to control his appetite. He was so strong of body, but so weak of will. Jacob’s firstborn son, Reuben, was a weak-willed person. His character, which was “unstable as water,” disqualified him and his descendants from receiving the chief birthright blessings (Genesis 49:3-4).

We in the final hour of man’s age must exercise an iron will if we are to make it to the end. Ecclesiastes 9:10 states, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” It takes a great deal of willpower to be zealous in every endeavor. Almighty God wants us to exercise our wills continuously.

He wants us to develop strong willpower to do His will. Christ told us, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

The human will is limited. It must be strengthened by the Spirit of God. The Apostle Peter thought he was strong-willed until Christ showed him differently (see Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75). Though he was weak initially, with God’s Spirit he became a changed man with strong character.

What about our children? You have probably heard someone say, “That is a strong-willed child.” Usually, it’s when he is in a rebellious attitude. Children, especially, should be diligently taught to develop willpower while they are young. They ought to be made to do what is right, rather than only what they like to do.

If a child is made to study his lessons rather than play most of the time, he develops stronger character and builds willpower. If he helps with chores instead of frittering away his time, he will likewise strengthen his character. Too many children have too much won’t-power! They need to be trained to have “Yes, I will” power!

God Almighty wants each of us to develop strong willpower, but He does not want us to be strong-willed in the wrong direction and be self-willed! We must develop God’s will. We must set our wills to “endure to the end” (Matthew 24:13) and to overcome as Christ did (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). We must strengthen our willpower daily by doing what we know is right by exercising God’s Spirit. Setting our wills to become the will of God the Father is a lifelong journey and must be worked on daily.

Think on these things and build the willpower to do them!