Everywhere I look, I am reminded that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Advertisements for flowers and chocolate are expected, but this year, I keep seeing marketing for heart-shaped everything: mugs, waffle-makers, pizza, jewelry, spatulas, soap, measuring spoons, light bulbs, jerky. Wait, what? Yes, heart-shaped meat products.
For the record, I like all of those things (although I can’t quite sort out just how the heart-shaped spatula works), and, on a normal week, if I saw something like that that I wanted for my home, I would buy it. Not this week. This is Valentine’s Week, and all of these items are meant to be bought by someone else and gifted to their Beloved.
Even so, I want that Valentine’s waffle-maker. Not really, but I want the affection such a gift represents. To be clear, I am talking about envy: begrudging or longing for what someone else has. The Ten Commandments calls this “covetousness.”
Maybe you can relate. Envy creeps in, whispering that something good has been withheld from you. It tempts us to be snarky, to protect ourselves from feeling the lack of affection, of flowers, of spatulas. Envy build barriers to “rejoicing with those who rejoice,” and it casts shadows on the gifts we have been given. Envy tends to the seeds of bitterness and cheers their growth.
How can we battle against envy this Valentine’s Day (and every day)?
Fight the pity party. Self-pity is just pride dressed in sham sackcloth. Why do I throw this pity-party? Because I think that I deserve something more than what I have. Because I feel that I know best what would give God the most glory and bring me the most happiness. Because I value my own opinion over that of my gracious Father.
Extend care to others. Find someone or a group of someones that you can invest in. Maybe there is a family who has just had a baby, or a wife who has just become a widow. Where in your world are the people who might be struggling with thoughts of inadequacy and insecurity? Make dinner for people. Take dinner to a family. Host a game night. Deliver flowers. Write a note. Bake some cookies. Do something for someone else.
Count your mercies. Remember the “grace” we would sing in a round at camp before we ate tuna noodle casserole? “For health and strength and daily food we praise Your name, Oh, God.” That’s a good place to start, fore sure. Count and recount the goodness of your God. I find that when I think clearly about the blessings of salvation and Scripture and breath, that I don’t have emotion to allow envy and discontentment have their heyday. Check the first podcast on the recording page for more on contentment.
Is it hard to battle envy? Disappointment? Some days. But I know where the strength comes from:
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13
Happy Valentine’s Day to you. May the Lord enable you to know His affection and delight for you.