Vanity or sanity
Psalm 127 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Prosperity Comes from the Lord.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
The psalmist says: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. It is not that we should not work hard. It is that the motivation should not be that we do so to serve ourselves. In Luke 12:15-21 Jesus says: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” It is vanity and for vanity sake that people build without the Lord. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What is built by people for this realm will not last for eternity. To live our lives for carnal pleasure and treasure is vanity.
In the same way, I couldn’t help but to think what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18-19 “Upon this rock (the revelation from God that Jesus is the Christ) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Unless the Lord builds the church, they labor in vain who build it. There are many today who build the church, by the efforts and plans of man. Any church not built on the foundation of Jesus as the Christ, is built in vain, or built for vanity sake. There are many books and many programs regarding how to build a large and successful church, but what is not built by Jesus, on the foundation of Christ and the cross, what is built by the plans of man for the benefit and approval of man is vanity.
The psalmist says: Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. How can the Lord guard our cities today, since we have determined that He is not welcome in our public places? How can He guard our schools, when He is not welcome there? Our cities and schools have become like war zones. No amount of man’s control; no guarding by human institutions or regulations can keep them safe. Those who want to take away guns to make our cities and schools safe are critical of those who offer prayer when there is a tragedy. Perhaps though, if prayer were allowed before the tragedy, there would be less tagedies. Perhaps if God were in control, we would not need gun control. Our cities and our schools where guns are restricted by human laws are not safe. The cities with the strictest laws and the most watchmen, have the most violence. Rather than more of the vanity of man’s laws, we need to return to abiding by God’s laws.
The psalmist says: It is vain
for you to rise up early, To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Jesus says: In Matthew 6:27;33 Jesus says: “Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? … Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
The psalmist says: Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. In our society today there is a debate as to whether children; the unborn fruit of the womb are a gift and a reward or a non-living occupant in a mother’s body. Rather than a gift, the fruit of the womb is thought by many to be a choice. Unlike the man whose quiver is full and is not ashamed before his enemies, our society has made itself an enemy of God and should quiver in shame before Him. Society can argue that it is merely a clump of cells; God says: “Before I formed you in the womb (even before you were a clump of cells) I knew you.” If we continue to treat the gift of God as an inconvenience rather than as a blessing, how can we think that we could ask God to bless anything else?
In Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 it says: “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor In which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever. In Chapter 3:1-4 it says: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance. Finally in chapter 12:13-14 it says: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. We cannot deny that we cannot control time. None of us can add a single hour to our lives by our own choice. It is vanity to think that we can. We can and should conclude that to live our lives without or opposed to God, is vanity and foolishness.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; I choose to build my life with You, for You and in You. I choose the sanity of obedience over the vanity of living without You. You are my all. Amen.