It was the OT reading from Isaiah 49 (NASB). The word “vanity” stood out. I thought to myself, indeed a lot of what I worry about is due to my own vanity. Wanting to look good, feel good, have others think I’m good, be good, do good, work and play for good, have things, be at certain places at certain times. Nothing wrong with those things in themselves – for God loves excellence – but taken to an extreme, they become my vanity. And how many things that I think difficult to give up – are things that feed my vanity?
But there is more to vanity than a preoccupation with looking good. It seems that vanity is mentioned in the Bible as (i) a sin (ii) a consequence of sinfulness. In particular, for the mentions of ‘vanity’ in Ecclesiastes, the original Hebrew is ‘hebhel’. The roots of the word ‘hebhel’ indicate vapor, fog, steam, breeze or breath. Something that is transitory, ephemeral, impermanent, and which may at first appear to be substantial, but is really without enduring substance. [Bible Dictionary; ISBE; Strong’s Hebrew Bible Dictionary]
Do I spend my strength for vanity – or things that will last? How can I see through the veneer of vanity to true beauty approved by and pleasing to God? May the fruit of my life never be vanity.
Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Your ways. – Ps 119:37