Everyone knows the saying “pride comes before a fall,” and in today’s world of selfies, vanity, pride and narcissism seem to run rampant. However, it is really a symptom of insecurity, loneliness, and a desire to be loved by those around us. We always want to put our best face forward, so that everyone around us sees our favorable side. Unfortunately, being so concerned about our appearance or what others think of us, is really not worth it in the end. The Bible has something to say about this, so here are my top Bible verses about vanity.
Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Egotism and conceit are synonyms of vanity, and they are focused on “self” and on “I.” As Christians, our foundation and our trust must always be in the Lord. When we “build” our house—our appearance, our personal values, our relationships, our identity—it must be with the Lord as our master builder. Only then can we ensure that our life will be fruitful and successful. Depending on our own strength and wisdom will lead to disaster and be in vain, but when we follow God then our lives are secure.
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Today’s culture puts a great deal of emphasis on beauty and outward appearances. Movies and magazines even try to tell us what is beautiful and politically correct, and being vain just seems to be the norm. However, the Lord reminds us in this verse that charm and beauty are only vanity and temporary. In God’s view, a woman, or any person who fears him, is even more appealing and worthy to be praised. In other words what is on the inside of a person is more important than what is on the outside.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
King Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived, wrote this book after considering his life and experiences. He realized that a lot of what we do is just chasing after the wind, if we do not have a right focus. Promoting ourselves and our accomplishments might give us momentary pleasure, but once we commit our lives to God then we can experience true contentment and fulfillment.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”
I included this verse in my top 7, because money has often led individuals to a sense of self-importance and arrogance. These are synonymous with vanity, because anyone who believes that they are better than anyone or anything else is just setting themselves up for a fall. Nothing—not looks or money—can make a person truly happy.
Ecclesiastes 12:8 “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.”
One definition of vanity is excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. And this is exactly what Solomon was addressing when he wrote these words. All of the time and energy we spend improving ourselves is worthless if our motives are wrong. As Christians we know that pride is destructive, and that our focus should be on loving the Lord and serving him and others around us.
Isaiah 49:4 “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.’”
Our lives are worth so much than the money we have, the work we have done, our reputations, or even our outward beauty. The prophet Isaiah reminds us here, that all of this is in vain if we do not put God in the center of our lives. When we walk hand in hand with him then our lives are significant and valuable, and he will reward us accordingly.
I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
My final verse is a clear reminder of why we should not let vanity and conceit rule our lives. When we are steadfast, immovable and abounding in the work of the Lord, then we know that our life matters. We have a reason to exist that goes above and beyond ourselves. This reason is an eternal one that transcends the time and space we occupy here on earth.
Egotism, narcissism, pride and vanity all keep the focus of our lives on ourselves and on our own looks, money, and accomplishments. This, however, is very shallow and meaningless in the end. Our life matters so much more when we put God in the center and do things his way. Then all of our insecurities and doubts are dismissed in the greater context of the true meaning of life.
Written by Karla Hawkins
I am very grateful to be a Christian author, editor and translator. Some of my favorite pastimes include traveling, and connecting with family and friends via social media. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and especially with my precious three-year-old grandson.