Sunday, October 10, 2021

Is all vanity?

Sermons for the nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

St Paul bids us not to walk in the vanity of our minds. What does he mean?


When we do something in vain, it means a wasted effort. Our work comes to nothing. It is all wasted, fruitless, pointless. It is vanity. It is in vain.

We can see how sad this is when we are trying to do something specific. Too many times we see on the news of someone trying to save someone else's life but in vain despite their efforts. That is truly a tragedy: vanity is a tragedy. But trying to save someone's life in vain is far from being a complete tragedy. Vanity has a greater tragedy.


If vanity is a tragedy when a longed-for outcome is missed then what about a life lived in vain? What if all we do is a waste of time and we don't care about it? A life lived for nothing in particular. A life lived for no-one in particular. A life just lived - if you can call it living.

St Paul asks us to reclaim our purpose in life. He shows us that the life of vanity is rich only in sin and selfishness. 

What is the point of hoarding money if you're not going to use it? It has no-use otherwise? What is the point of being too concerned with your appearance? You will age and die and all people are ugly when they are dead. What is the point of living for pleasure after pleasure? You will get bored and soon no pleasure will be enjoyable. This is vanity - all is vanity!

There is no earthly point to living.

But there is a heavenly point to living.


If St Paul warns us against walking in the vanity of our minds then he is reminding us that not only do we have a final destiny in Heaven with God, but we have a purpose for God here and now. We should be preparing for our last end but we need to do that right now - always now. 

God gives our lives meaning and purpose and that meaning and purpose are present to us every second of our lives. We are not meant to live vainly. We are not meant to idle our time away twiddling our thumbs until He comes again. To do so disrespects the gift of life that He has given us now, now, now!


But this sounds too hard, doesn't it? Accounting for every second of our lives. Directing every action, every word and every thought to God's purposes in us. It feels like an invasion of our selves and an abuse of our freedom to be ourselves. But we are fallen and earthly minded and, to an extent, we cannot help that. But we must try. We must struggle against the world and its infecting our being. 

It is the Prince of this World, the Devil himself, who tries to convince us that God has no right to be in our lives. It is he who tries to convince us that we need a break from God. It is he who tries to convince us that we are wasting our effort of repenting of sin and falling in sin and repenting of sin again and again and again. It is the Devil who tries to convince us that we should lie back, enjoy ourselves and let nature take its course. 


Just say no!


Any effort to turn to God is not in vain. Any effort to stop sinning is recorded and acted upon. God wants us for Himself to be loved and to be active in His love. That is the life to be lived now and it is the life we will achieve long after the Devil has been shut up for Eternity in Hell.

Your life is not in vain, so do not give in to vanity!

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