In the final analysis, will you hear “Well Done!” as Jesus evaluates the life you have lived, or will you just hear “Done”? How you deal with vanity will decide. I realize, you don’t have a problem with vanity. Neither do I. Let’s read on for the possibility of help in enlightening others who may…
John 10: 9 Yes, I (Jesus) am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The life that Jesus holds forth to us is an immeasurable gift, an opportunity to have a meaning, even satisfaction!. All vanity, by contrast, at some point, reveals itself as emptiness, but we humans want to keep the hope alive. Saying yes to this life gift, the full life that Jesus holds forth, means a departure from our selfish, vain, hopeless, shallow, hollow lives. But, it is saying yes to a story where we are not the star. Vanity is the false hope that keeps your dreams of stardom alive.
Much of our lives are spent trying to hang on to the vanity and empty living that has been passed down to us by culture and family, when this is exactly what Jesus was spent as ransom to free us from. This can be especially true when we get offended by or disappointed with Jesus.
While we are attacking this insidious foe, we must keep in mind that Jesus confronts vanity, not because He hates those trapped in it, but because vanity is the ultimate devaluation of it’s host.
Pride, vanity’s first cousin, too, is a destroyer, as it blinds you from real vision and puts delusion in it’s place. They work well together, by the way. Vanity in it’s highly specialized forms causes us to derive meaning for and in our lives from things that can convey no real meaning and substance in themselves. The funny thing is that these things work to beguile us, often, thru predispositions created by God’s grace in our lives, i.e., talents, leanings, natural tendencies, etc.. This is where we see one greatly effective temptation that we often fall to; using the grace of God upon our lives for the pursuit of vanity. This is the talk show gospel of the hour, by the way, and the sad and tragic story of many whom the world’s celebrates. Let him who listens be careful that he hears.
Less destructive forms of vanity, do they really exist? Today we have vanity in manifold expression. If all was vanity in Solomon’s day, what level has such vanity matured to in our times? Vanity has many aliases, but all of them destroy. Giving ourselves in abandon to such imposters only perpetuates the conception of false hope, but what does it mean to live a life of meaning and substance?
This may sound appalling to some, but I believe the Lord showed me this. We already live an equivalent society to the one that is thought to be only a caricature in the popular books and movies of recent times, The Hunger Games. The things of this world are elaborately disguised to conceal their true essence. Yet, they are still all about what we can eat, what we can drink, and what we can put on, just as they were in John’s time.
Do not love the world (read “this age”) or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17 NKJV)
This world doesn’t offer us love, it offers us a main course of lust and pride (with violence on the side). The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is the kingdom where our citizenship is currently, and eternally, registered. The value of natural things, such as food and drink, and money, has no shelf life. They perish in the using. The value of eternal things isn’t perishable. Be careful where you put your hope, identity, and sense of self. Highly customizable experiences of (all things, including) vanity is the promise of our times! We must continually guard our hearts…
Matthew 6:31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
All of life, in all it’s various expressions, is vanity, when separated from God.
Vanity has an unlimited supply of sponsors. If you get tired of one, many others are available.
Vanity is a plague in our times, as it ever has been, and yet it’s deadliness has not been exhausted.
Anything not rooted in or reconciled to the pursuit of You, Lord Jesus, is vanity.
One thing that is strained toward with determination in our times, is making vanity look noble.
Sadly, (or is it thankfully?) vanity of every type will run thin. We weren’t made for vanity, but for purpose. Vanity, no matter how important or enjoyable we try to make it look, still leaves us hollow. We cannot build our lives like the world builds. The root that bound us to the world has been severed.
How do we keep away from vanity? By following Jesus, tho that sounds too simple. After all, Jesus didn’t say, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of fame, fortune, pleasure, self-actualization, transcendence…” In following Him, He will make us seek (and find) what the Father deems valuable.
We have an opportunity and invitation to be lead by God into greatness. Keep in mind here, this is greatness from His perspective, which doesn’t align with greatness from the perspective of this age. The life of Jesus looks like greatness in the eyes of God, tho he never held office, and was never rich while among us. To let go of our aspirations of greatness for it’s own sake, or for selfish reasons, is one of the initial tests we need to pass if we are to get on to God’s plan for our lives. It’s temptation can be avoided, but should never be considered fully overcome in this life. Vanity is persistent in falsely espousing her claim.
Self expression can be an idol, as can your contribution, or your place of belonging, or the relationships that you seek to keep you from being alone. All of these things can be idols, and attempt to exert their influence, not as parts of what the Lord intends to use to bless you, but as having independent merit and legitimacy.
To find meaning in life, to look for your “passion in life”, or to attempt to discover ultimate meaning, apart from God, is vanity. Hey, but that’s just the deep stuff. There are innumerable others paths to the shallows of vanity that each have their own appeal. I can see the effect of deep and shallow vanity all around me. I bet you can too. It is deeply disheartening.
“While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance.” – A.W.Tozer, The Pursuit of God
You cannot become who you are created to be or grow in Your identity by seeking self-knowledge. The way this is intended to work, and does work, is by seeking God. Seeking him reveals to you who you are, but seeking yourself only cultivates idolatry in your own heart – self-worship. This can be a big problem. Seek God, not self knowledge. It is possible you are searching for your identity for selfish reasons, or because you want others to know who you are. This will interfere with the grace that God wants to extend to you to become who He has called you to become. Put such selfishness away from you.
“All that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” C.S. Lewis