The Vainness of Vanity
Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon has set out to find the secret to a fulfilled life. He first tried to gain wisdom and learning of all things, but he found that this left him empty and unsatisfied. He has now turned his attention to self-indulgence. In 2:1, Solomon writes, “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’” Solomon had the wealth and resources to live in such a way that he did not keep and desire or pleasure away. He indulged himself in every way. He writes, “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil” (2:10).
Wouldn’t you love this opportunity? If you had unlimited funds and resources to spend on all of your selfish pleasures, where would you start? Maybe pay off loans, or purchase new cars or homes. Perhaps you would buy an entirely new wardrobe, or design an epic man/woman cave for yourself. Would you invest some of the money, or maybe start your own business? Where would your spending stop? When would you spend enough and have enough to be fulfilled?
Solomon did not hold back at all. He built homes, vineyards, gardens and park that he filled with various fruit trees, pools, as well as buying servants, flocks, herds, and collecting gold, silver, treasures, concubines and wives. Solomon had a blank check to get for himself anything he wanted, and he records how it made him feel in 2:11. Think back to all you would have done with your unlimited funds and resources, and then read this verse:
"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."
It took a long time for Solomon to build and gather all of these things. In all of that time and all of that labor, only to find that he was trying to capture the wind. Such a gripping analogy. To pursue life fulfillment in vanity and indulgence is equal to trying to grasp the wind as it blows through your fingers. It is a powerless feeling to know that even with unlimited resources and money you cannot fulfill your own heart and life.
If we live our life selfishly chasing after vanity, then our life will have been lived in vain; our life will have been wasted. Jesus warned His followers of what treasures they stored up in their hearts. All of our precious metals will develop rust, and all of our beautiful fabrics will fade and be devoured by moths. There is nothing we could buy, build, or create that will endure time and grant us everlasting joy and peace. We live this life looking for something to fill us up to whole, and we try so many things in this world, but they never satisfy. St. Augustine introduced the popular idea of having a God-sized hole in our hearts that nothing but God can fill. Pour and fit everything you can think of into your heart, but if you do not have a relationship with God you will forever be empty.
Call to Action: What all have you poured into your heart in an effort to fulfill your desires? Did you, like Solomon, find them to be lacking? This is because we do not need all things, but the One who made all things. Don’t seek the things of this world when only Christ can satisfy. Instead, point your heart upwards, and surrender your heart to God every day. Let your first thought every day, even before you get out of bed, be the thought of surrender. Love God above all things, and seek Him more than all things. Seek Him through prayer and through reading His Word. Commit to Him, and allow Him to fill you up in every way. Watch and see as the Lord gives you His peace, which surpasses all human desires and understanding.