This morning I was thinking to myself that I might actually pop open the laptop and attempt to resurrect the blog, at least briefly. Most of y’all have been around long enough to know that any signs of life around here are generally short-lived.
What I had in mind was publishing one of the several posts I have in draft that I tweak and edit whenever the writing urge strikes. Despite evidence to the contrary, I really do (occasionally) get spurts of creative energy! I did not consider I would be writing the stream of consciousness sort of post that you’re seeing here.
With the thought of perhaps publishing something today lodged firmly in the back of my mind, I commenced reading my Bible out on the porch as I generally do on a given morning. My reading today took me through the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes. I chuckled as I read Ecclesiastes 6:11, “The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man?” I couldn’t help but think immediately of the words of this blog, and vanity, and wherein is the advantage?
I will say the context of the verse isn’t exactly words written by me or anyone else. Rather the passage is speaking of the sovereignty of “one stronger” and the folly of disputing the authority of the Lord God who reigns and who determines all things.
But the loose, out-of-context application made me laugh regardless.
I once wrote a post where I made the statement I had little vanity. By that I meant that I don’t really struggle with appearance; I probably worry far more about whether or not I should be worrying about my appearance. The post actually went on to describe an attempt at purchasing swimsuit so, yeah, hello vanity and insecurity and heaps of both.
One cannot engage in a hobby like this one, writing something and sending it out to the world wide web for whosoever will to read, and not admit some degree of vanity in the process. In fact, the Preacher’s next question in Eccesliastes 6:11 hits my vanity square on the head, at least in terms of writing and ministry: what is the profit?
We have lots of ways we measure the success of something, usually by its popularity. We follow the numbers game. We look for assurance and affirmation in our perceived like-ability. See how many people read your post? How many links it received? Or, we talk in terms of how many attend your church, how many likes your Instagram photo received, how many retweets and shares your status update boasts. Or maybe we look to the advancement of our agenda, or the assertion of our “rights,” or our measure against any number of chosen standards, from our children’s academic success to the cleanliness of our baseboards compared to our friends’.
Oh. Wait. Maybe we’re not talking just about “more words” and correspondingly more vanity. Truly our vanity, my vanity, manifests itself in all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Bitterness, unforgiveness, unwillingness to give others the benefit of the doubt, self-consciousness, lack of love, defensiveness—all these and more find their root in vanity and pride.
I’m reading The Fruitful Life: The Overflow of God’s Love Through You by Jerry Bridges as part of my preparation to teach on the fruit of the Spirit in Sunday School. Interestingly, he begins his discussion with humility. Last I checked, humility wasn’t on the list of fruit the Spirit bears in the believer’s life. But Bridges asserts we must begin here, with a proper view of the holiness and majesty of God and a correct assessment of who we are before Him. Otherwise, we cannot grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, all of which are starved and strangled by the pervasive evil of vanity. In fact, Paul follows his list of the fruit of the Spirit with the command to not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
In other words, lose the vanity. Repent of your pride. Humble yourself before the Lord.
And what is the profit? What is the advantage to man? Consider Isaiah 57:15 for just one example of the beautiful promises the Lord makes to the woman who will humble herself before Him:
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Consider that! The Lord will dwell with the lowly! We also see in the Bible that Jesus is our example; He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross! (Phil. 2:8). Because of His life and death and resurrection, we have His Spirit within us willing and working for His good pleasure. He is our guarantee and He has promised that he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:14, emphasis mine).
“More words,” indeed. It’s a long post, stream of consciousness or not. “More vanity,” please Lord, I hope not. The profit? May it be for the Lord’s glory and His alone.