“None are so empty as those who are full of themselves”Benjamin Wichcote
The first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “vanity” is someone who is outwardly full of themselves for one reason or another. It could be pride over their physical appearance or achievements.
But what makes it any different from healthy self-esteem? And is vanity a sin according to Christianity?
Is vanity a sin?
Vanity is a sin.
There are no two ways about it. In fact, it is classified under pride under the 7 deadly sins. The main difference between this kind of pride and self-worth is simply comparison.
According to the theory of social comparison, self-esteem crosses the line over to toxicity, the moment we start to compare ourselves with others. Vanity in particular occurs when you begin to consider yourself better than some people or become obsessed with those you feel are better than you.
These thoughts are all consuming and whether physical appearance, career achievements, or any other kind of success, it is almost always followed by a major slice of humble pie from the world.
What does the Bible say about vanity?
We have already established that it is considered in most religions as a sin. For some perspective, here are some of the most famous quotes about vanity by great men of God.
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It is all meaningless
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”Ecclesiastes 1:2
There are few people in the Bible or in the world in general who can say they have tasted true vanity. King Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes truly had it all. He had power, wealth, popularity, and a pretty awesome relationship with God.
And if Biblical accounts and the hoards of women after him are anything to go by, we can conclude that he was a good-looking guy to boot.
However, he had the wisdom to understand that at the end of the day, it didn’t mean anything to God.
It is temporary
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”Proverbs 31:30
Like his son Solomon, David also had every opportunity to be vain, but he understood that nothing mattered in the grand scheme of things. In most of his proverbs, there is a recurring theme of the power and importance of humility.
The proverbs on a dutiful woman best portray the worthlessness of vanity due to its overall fleeting nature.
All that matters is our spiritual connection with God
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7
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Even the greatest of us can sometimes be blinded by vain filters of life. The biggest mistake is thinking that God values the same superficial things that we do. Samuel learned this when he was called to crown David, a scrawny nobody, to be the King of the Israelites.
Is vanity a sin? Absolutely, and it is one of the easiest traps to fall for. With all the quotes about vanity we have looked into from the Bible, we can only conclude that all that matters in this world is our relationship with God.
By all means, cultivate a spirit of self-love and appreciation of God’s blessings over your life. But do not, even for a moment, let yourself believe that it was all you or that it is all that matters. That is when self-worth becomes vanity.