Vanity – it’s a word we’re all familiar with, but what does the Bible actually say about it? Is it okay to be vain or is it a sin? Here we take a look at what the Bible has to say about vanity.
At its core, vanity is defined as excessive pride or self-love, which the Bible explicitly warns against. Proverbs 16:5 states “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” This verse clearly implies that vanity is a sin. Not only that, but the Bible also cautions us against wanting too much praise from others. Proverbs 27:2 tells us, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; Someone else, and not your own lips.”
Vanity can also lead to arrogance which, according to Ecclesiastes 7:8, the Bible advises us against. The passage says, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,” meaning that no one should boast or act arrogantly about his or her own accomplishments.
The Bible also warns us not to be deceived by vain words. The book of 2 Peter says, “Your boasting is empty. Don’t you know that this boasting is evil?”. This verse is a reminder that whatever is said to us or about us, if it is boastful in nature, we should be careful not to let it affect our perspective on ourselves or our view of others.
The Bible is also clear that in everything, we should find our pride and joy in the Lord. Ecclesiastes 2:26 reminds us that anything from the world that we are proud of is ultimately meaningless. “For all is vanity and a striving after wind.” This means that all of our accomplishments are insignificant and that any sense of pride and joy should be found in God’s faithfulness.
Finally, Proverbs 11:2 urges us to humbly accept any criticism we receive. The verse reads, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” This is a warning to us that, despite knowing that vanity is a sin, we will still face moments of pride. When this happens, we should take that as an opportunity to learn and grow in humility.
Sin Of Vanity
The sin of vanity is an affront to the Lord’s holiness and can act as a form of idolatry if it is taken to an extreme. According to Psalm 10:3, “The Lord is patient and abounding in steadfast love, but with every kind of sin, including vanity, he will bring his judgments.” This means that when someone is self-seeking, the Lord will remember it and act in due season.
Vanity can also increase the stronghold of sin in our lives, as we become less focused on God’s plans for our lives and more focused on our appearances and the opinions of those around us. 2 Peter 2:10 tells us that those who pursue vanity will “accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires” and “will turn away from listening to the truth.” In other words, if we are consumed with vanity, we will soon begin to lose sight of our relationship with the Lord and will be caught up in what the world has to offer.
While some forms of vanity may be acceptable in certain situations, such as when we strive to look our best for special occasions, we need to understand that depending on the desire for approval to define our sense of worth can be a destructive force. Proverbs 16:18 cautions, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” We need to remember that no amount of external approval or worldly achievement can give us the fulfillment we desire. It is only when we look to the Lord for strength and are confident in who he has made us that we can truly be satisfied.
The Price Of Vanity
The bible teaches that there is a cost to the sin of vanity. Proverbs 16:5 say that “Everyone who is proud of heart is an abomination to the Lord.” This verse clearly implies that vanity is a sin, and thus it is something that God disapproves of. As followers of Jesus, it is important that we cultivate humility and not pride, since these are two virtues that are important in God’s eyes.
The danger of vanity is that it can be a slippery slope to other sins, as it can lead to arrogance and an exalting of oneself above others. Isaiah 2:11 warns us that pride leads to a downward spiral and will lead to our own destruction. Furthermore, it can cause us to miss the true purpose of our lives, which is to serve God. When we are focused on our own pride and vanity, we miss out on an opportunity to serve God’s work and make an impact in the lives of others.
Furthermore, vanity can also lead to spiritual blindness and a lack of understanding of our true purpose. Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” We need to remember that no amount of earthly gain or earthly honor will make us right with God, and if we exalt ourselves with pride then we will miss out on an opportunity to have a deeper relationship with God.
Finally, the Bible cautions us about the dangers of putting too much faith in our own abilities. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” This is a reminder that no matter how hard we try, we can never do it all on our own. We need to remember to remain humble and rely on the Lord and his strength for all of our needs.
The Bible encourages us to nurture humility rather than indulge in vanity. 1 Peter 5:5-6 tells us “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” This passage is a reminder to us that if we humble ourselves, God will exalt us in his own time. It is not our place to try and exalt ourselves, and God will ultimately be the one who rewards us with a place of honor in his kingdom.
The Bible also calls us to focus on serving others rather than ourselves. Philippians 2:3 tells us to “not be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” This verse teaches us to not focus on ourselves and our accomplishments, but to focus on serving others in whatever capacity we can. We must remember that when we serve others, we honor the Lord, and he will reward us in turn.
Finally, the Bible encourages us to look to Jesus as our example. The book of Philippians says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus himself was humble and served others, which is something that we should strive to do in our own lives.
An Eternal Perspective
The Bible encourages us to take an eternal perspective on our vanity. 1 John 2:17 reminds us that “the world and its desires are passing away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” We need to remember that any earthly gain or pleasure is fleeting and will not bring us true satisfaction. Rather, we must look to God and focus on his eternal purposes in order to fully understand our place in the world.
When it comes to our vanity, we must recognize that the way we perceive ourselves is not how God perceives us. We may be prone to vanity and pride, but God does not judge us on how much accomplishments we can fit on our resume. Rather, his judgement is based on the love and grace that we extend to others. He looks at our hearts to see if we are depending on him and loving others with the same grace that he has extended to us.
In conclusion, the Bible clearly tells us that vanity is a sin that we must take seriously and guard our hearts against. We need to actively nurture humility and seek to serve God and others, rather than seeking to gain praise and approval from the world. We must also remember to take an eternal perspective, remembering that any earthly possessions or gain is fleeting and that God will ultimately judge us based on the love and grace we extend to those around us.
A husband of one wife, father of two beautiful girls, laborer of Lord, Jesus Christ, and a servant to God’s His saints. I hope to encourage you by God’s grace. Thank you for stopping by.