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What Does the Bible Say About Vanity?

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The Definition of Vanity



According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, vanity is: a quality or fact of being useless or futile, futility, undue pride in oneself or one's appearance. Considering the definition of vanity, it almost makes sense that a small box for cosmetics figures among the definitions of the word. Often the dictionary definition of words and the biblical definition of those same words differ greatly. However, in this case, the two are very similar, which facilitates getting the answer to the question: What does the Bible say about vanity?

Man Has Always Been Vain



The words, "You're so vain," could justifiably be said to many people since ancient times, so vanity is not just a problem of modern times, though it has intensified in these last days. The scripture of Isaiah 5:18 reads, "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity...." Iniquity is wickedness; Isaiah 5:18 is one of numerous passages that reveals that being vain and the working of iniquity can have a close connection. No one, including those who are not Christians, should desire any connection to wickedness.

"They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities..." (Deuteronomy 32:21). Readers of this scripture are reminded that the Lord can be provoked to anger because of the vanities of his people. Everyone, including non-Christians, should desire to avoid provoking God to anger. Finally, wise Solomon said, "Remove far from me vanity..." (Proverbs 30:8). What does the Bible say about vanity? Nothing good.

Man Continues to Be Vain in the New Testament



The apostle Paul, in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, continued the warning to God's people against walking in the vanity of their mind when he wrote, "This I say therefore and testify in the Lord that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind" (Ephesians 4:17).

People who are vain are known to put even their life at risk to attain something that has no real use, something that is futile, or that is fleeting. People will undergo risky plastic surgery to hold on to their youthful looks which will fade no matter what. They will starve themselves to be skinny. They will follow the crowd to do that which they know is wrong. They will concern themselves with the lives of celebrities rather than attend to their own lives. Some are willing to worship the devil himself for the prize of fame, fortune, and power (Matthew 4:8-9). They are so vain that they never stop to ponder the question: What does the Bible say about vanity?

"For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul" (Mark 8:36-37).


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