Valentine’s Day was pretty fun growing up. It usually started out with some kind of cherry-flavored baked good for breakfast, then it was out the door with my home-decorated shoebox-turned-mailbox, ready to collect a pile of cartoon-themed valentine cards. Or, more importantly, to collect the pieces of candy taped to the pile of cartoon-themed valentine cards.
The day always started out well enough, but then my sin-nature inevitably reared its ugly head.
After all the valentines were passed out we would dump them out on our desks and sort through them all to assess the haul. No matter how many valentines and pieces of candy I received from my classmates, I wasn’t happy if I got the one with Raphael instead of the one with Leonardo (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not the Renaissance artists; my friends weren’t that sophisticated). I wasn’t happy if I got the one with the Butterfinger instead of the Kit-Kat.
I have this bad tendency of comparing myself - or what I have - to other people and what they have. I am happy with who I am or what I have until I see someone who is more or has more.
No matter where my eyes fall, temptation lies in waiting.
It’s kind of like how I set our 10-month-old son Caleb down in the middle of the room and the first thing he wants to crawl for is the electrical cords. So I turn him away from the cords and he crawls over to the stairs. So I turn him away from the stairs and he crawls into the bathroom and tries to pull up on the toilet.
The sin inside of me is always pulling my heart toward the things - whether it is a new gadget, an additional skill, or the ability to dunk a basketball - that I don’t have.
While none of these things are inherently bad, the longing for what I don’t have distracts me from thanking God for what He has already given me.
Recently, God was stirring in my heart an awareness of this propensity to sin, and then He brought Philippians 3:7-11 to my attention:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
… the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
I am constantly getting lost in longing for what I don’t have. What I so easily forget is that what I do have is everything.
Because I am in Christ and he is in me, what I do have is of surpassing worth beyond anything else that I could ever long for.
What a humbling truth.
But, at the same time, what an encouraging truth!
My heart is stirred to praise when I consider the grace of God to offer me resurrection from the dead by no means of my own, but by the loving gift of Christ’s righteousness.
I hope you will join us for worship on Sunday! I’m excited because Pastor Kyle (and a worship choir!) will be introducing a new song to our repertoire and Pastor Jack will be kicking off a new sermon series on the book of James, during which we will be challenged to consider the question Is what’s true in the Bible real in my life?
I love you, Church!