Vanity of Vanities

T.D. Higgins is a member of Reformed Baptist Church of Elizabethtown

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." (Eccl. 12.13-14)

This past month has been a tumultuous ride on rough waters. Social media is swept up with the so-called Second Civil War that, by all accounts, is sure to break out soon. Meanwhile, news outlets -- both left and right-leaning -- are feeding the gaping maw of public outrage with conflicting reports of who did what. Sadly, so many Christians in this nation have been caught up in this tidal wave of controversy. Of all the earthly affairs in which men must partake, politics is the vanity of vanities. Political controversy appeals to our pride. It tells us that we are important, that our opinion is weighty, and that our civic duty is to die on our respective hills.

The Preacher, in searching out wisdom, applied himself to all various areas of life, seeking to find some meaning "under the sun." Instead, he found vanity of vanities. Life under the sun, he discovered, is utterly meaningless. The only thing a man can do is eat, drink, and be merry. The rich and the poor both die; the wise and the fool both die; the happy and the sad both die. All men return to dust, and the works of our hands are nothing but vanity of vanities. But we do not live merely "under the sun," do we? No, we also live under heaven. Our life is not earth-centered, but heaven-centered. This is why the Preacher finally concludes that the whole duty of man is to fear God and to keep his commandments. All else is utter vanity.

A question we must ask of ourselves in light of the Preacher's contemplation is this: what captivates our time, effort, and resources? What is our first thought in the morning? The world is full of people who wake up and are immediately entranced with earthly things. Whether we pursue hedonism, wealth, or anything else "under the sun," we are merely completing exercises in futility. As Christians, we ought rather to follow the example of our namesake: Jesus Christ. He said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4.34). If every idle word will be taken into account in the judgment, how much more so will the words and thoughts which are not idle? We are given, at best, some 100 years on this earth. Let us strive to not chase after vanities. Instead, let us strive to set our minds on Christ. Let us determine to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. Cast aside all vain things that charm you most. Devote yourself to fearing God and keeping his commandments. The world will scorn you for this; they will mock you and perhaps even ostracize you. But what has the world to offer? Only vanity of vanities and a chasing after wind. Set yourself upon the rock, and look unto the Lord.