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This Week We're Looking at Vanity
"Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free (Hallelujah!);
Pardon there was multiplied to me (O glory!);
There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary."
Lyrics: William Reed Newell (1868-1956)
Music: Daniel Brink Towner (1850-1919)
At Calvary is one of my favorite hymns. It’s one that I sing over and over and that permeates my heart. Take a look at those lyrics, would you? “Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified.” That was me! And without the great and endless love of Christ, it would still be me.
But what is vanity? Why is it so tough to overcome? And, how did Christ’s work at Calvary disarm all of our vanity and pride? Let’s look to the Word for answers to all these questions.
What Is Vanity?
Vanity is like a coin with two facets. On one side, it is an extreme form of pride, going as far as self-worship and narcissism. On the other side, that arrogance and love of vainglory causes us to pursue things that lack real value and is synonymous with futility and uselessness (Psalm 39:4-7, Psalm 144:3-4, Proverbs 13:11, Ecclesiastes 2:11).
Why Is Vanity Hard To Overcome?
Vanity is like an invasive weed. It takes root in our hearts and crowds out the goodness of Christ. It reminds me of yet another of my favorite hymns:
"When I survey the wond'rous Cross,
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest Gain I count but Loss,
And pour Contempt on all my Pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the Death of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his Blood."
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Lyrics: Isaac Watts (1707)
Music: Hamburg Lowell Mason (1824)
Like this powerful hymn says, vain things are charming. They sparkle and shine much brighter than the cross when we allow them to take up residence in our hearts. When we pursue vanity to fill our emptiness, we are left with even more emptiness, and, as the Christian Standard Bible puts it, “a desire for more and more” (Proverbs 13:11, Ecclesiastes 5:10, Galatians 5:16-21, Ephesians 4:17-19).
In our own power, it is impossible for us to overcome the futility of our thinking and the reckless pursuit of our own vain desires. Without Jesus, we are hopeless. We cannot have a connection with God, we cannot approach His mercy seat because He is holy and cannot tolerate our sin-stained and filthy hearts, and we definitely cannot do enough to earn our salvation. (Psalm 24:4-5, Romans 3:23, Psalm 94:11, Isaiah 64:6).
How Did Christ Disarm Our Vanity At Calvary?
I don’t know about you, but when I truly take stock of my own efforts to elevate myself, the truth that hits me in the face is that nothing I do will ever be enough. It is simply vanity, a chasing after the wind.
But, Jesus. He penetrated all our defenses. He broke down our vanity. He loved us in spite of our pride. He made a laughing stock of all that our vanity tells us is valuable. He is the King. Yet, instead of glorifying Himself, He chose to become a servant. Instead of comfort and luxury, He chose suffering and death. Now, I stand in His great mercy. All because of what He accomplished at Calvary (Colossians 2:13-15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Philippians 2:5-11).
"Lord, now indeed I find,
Thy power and thine alone,
Can change the leper's spots,
And melt the heart of stone.
Jesus paid it all,
All to him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."
Jesus Paid It All
Elvina M. Hall (1865)
Erin is a wife to her handsome engineer husband, Christian blogger, and mom to two active little boys. She loves a good cup of coffee, but mostly she’s just trying to live life to the full. Her passion is helping discouraged and special needs moms find hope and healing in Jesus. And rabbits. She really loves raising rabbits on her family’s small homestead in South Carolina.
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What does Vanity mean to you?
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