Part I, Vanity Series: All is Vanity!

19 Apr

All is Vanity!

Last night at Bible study, we finished our study of the book of Ecclesiastes.

I have enjoyed the study, much more than I have enjoyed Ecclesiastes in the past. I always thought it was a kind of depressing book. I see a lot of optimism this time around.

“Vanity” in Ecclesiastes is related to a vain or puffed up person, but more deeply related to “emptiness.”

And to soap bubbles. A pastor once defined that Ecclesiastes sort of emptiness as analogous to soap bubbles, fleeting and easily burst. Which I guess can relate to that puffed up person, too.

Last night we were asked to pick a verse for the week, from chapters 9-12, that especially appealed to us.

I chose 9:7, which says, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.”

I like that. Simplicity itself. Enjoy your life because you are rightly related to God.

Sometimes we make that too complicated. There is a whole segment of Christianity that wants to say if something is not specifically mentioned in Scripture, we should not do it. And they say we especially should not enjoy doing things that God did not specifically tell us to do.

Like twirling around in a field of spring flowers, joyous at the sunshine pouring down on you. Or rejoicing in hot, aromatic coffee being poured for you from a white china pot into a fine china cup in a hotel dining room. Or glowing at the joy of being able to afford a new dress that is just right on you!

We talked a lot about the next two verses in chapter 9, which are related: “Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.”

That certainly makes a case for enjoying marital bliss, doesn’t it?

More subtle is the part about the white clothing and the oil. There is the spiritual application–the Holy Spirit washes us white at salvation (clothes us in white clothing, in the symbolism of the Scriptures) and He anoints our heads with oil, His very presence (oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit throughout the Scriptures).

But I don’t think it is a stretch to see more in that passage. White clothing would be appropriate, beautiful attire (there were not many dyes back then, so white or natural-colored clothing was a lot more common). Oil was the perfume of that day.

I think it is showing it is okay to rejoice in that new dress, as I did the other day. And in the new bottle of perfume to go with it.

As I said to my core leader on the way out of class, I am kind of in a “”soap bubble” season of life right now, one that is very real but very fleeting, too (because more serious seasons always come along eventually!).

I am thrilled about my weight loss. I am thrilled about buying new clothes, cosmetics, and jewelry, because for the first time in my life I can both afford to give to charity and have nice things for myself and my family. It is a lovely season.

I won’t always feel so mountaintop high about a new dress.

But, in the meantime, I believe God loves my smile of joy when I find one that pleases me (and my husband!) well.

Remember, we can’t take our possessions to heaven, but God does give them to us on earth for a season. I believe if we are grateful for His gifts to us and responsible stewards of them (not selfish), He is glad when we rejoice in His generosity.

He is the giver of all good things.


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