Vanity is a theme explored time and again in the Bible, cut across both Old and New Testaments. It primarily signifies a state of worthlessness or pointlessness, often linked with the obsession in one’s appearance, accomplishments, or worldly possessions that overlooks moral or spiritual substance. By examining several biblical passages, one can gain a more profound understanding of the concept of vanity in a biblical context.
Why Vanity is Discouraged in Bible
The Bible speaks about vanity in a not too pleasant light, serving as a reminder of transitory human life and ephemeral pleasures. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament present vanity as an aspect that distances humans from eternal and spiritual perspective of life. The consequences, often associated with vanity in the Bible, are a detachment from God and a blindsided focus on transient, earthly pleasures. The Bible encourages focusing on virtues of humility, contentment, and love, rather than being mired in the trap of vanity.
What Bible Says About Vanity and Riches
In the discourse about wealth and possessions, the Bible touches on vanity in many instances. Wealth devoid of God’s blessings is considered vain and futile. This focus on riches, often viewed as vanity, is a distraction from the more meaningful and lasting treasures like wisdom, good deeds, and spiritual advancement that stand the test of time. The Bible also warns against pride and the illusion of self-sufficiency that can arise from dependence on worldly riches, a conduct it associates with vanity.
Where Bible Stresses on the Fleeting Nature of Vanity
In the eyes of the Bible, the nature of vanity is fleeting, much like a ‘chasing after the wind.’ Vanity is a trap that ensnares humans into focusing on that which does not last. The worldly preoccupation with physical beauty, material wealth, or intellectual capital is seen as vain pursuits because they fade away with time. The Bible, instead, emphasizes the nurturing of the soul, the heart and the spirit which stands the test of eternity and marks a life well lived.
Who the Bible cautions about the Dangers of Vanity
The Bible addresses humanity at large, urging everyone to be aware of vanity’s dangers. The Bible cautions about giving excessive importance to personal appearance, wealth, and earthly achievements, which lead humans away from God’s path. The exhortation is framed not as a reproof but as an invitation to seek contentment in godly pursuit and service rather than in vain pleasures.
When the Bible emphasizes Humility over Vanity
The Bible’s teaching is clear: Vanity, with its focus on self, stands in stark contrast to humility. The emphasis is on lowliness of mind and putting others before oneself. This serves as a counter-narrative to the narrative of vanity. Humility not only brings humans closer to each other, but it also brings them closer to God. The lessons from the Bible discourage vanity, advocating instead for a life marked by humility, love, and service to others.
Below is our full list of bible verses on vanity (King James Version – KJV) provided in ranked order.
Most Popular Bible Verses About Vanity
“30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”
“37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”
“2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
Related Themes: Problem Solving
“11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”
Related Themes: Materialism
“10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.”
1 Samuel 16:7
“7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
“5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.”
“4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.”
1 Timothy 4:8
“8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
“4 Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.”
“2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
“1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
“20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,”
“30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.”
“14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
“9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.”
“8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”
“26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
“16 I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.”
Related Themes: Loneliness
“16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
“5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
“11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.”
“15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.”
“8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.”
“31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.”
Related Themes: Reaping What You Sow
“1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.”
“2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.”
“21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.”
“11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.”
“6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.”
Related Themes: Lust