Ecclesiastes - The Vanity Of It All

I wish I had found this picture before I taught our Sunday School lesson on the book of Ecclesiastes. I know that sounds odd, but thoughts of outer beauty versus inner beauty struck me when I saw it.

Solomon wrote: Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. Ecclesiastes 1:2-4

Vanity in the book of Ecclesiastes is defined as something that looks good on the surface but has no value in God's economy. Think about a melon that looks perfect on the outside but has become rotten on the inside, making it inedible. It no longer serves its purpose of feeding someone, so it has lost all of its value as food.

It's this idea that came to mind when I saw the water damage around this window. The stained glass is breath-taking and has been there for many decades. It even makes rainbows on the walls and ceiling when the light comes through it. The windows add to the beauty of the building, creating light and colors that bless all who see them.

But around the edge of that stained glass window is peeling, deteriorating paint and wood. Somewhere along the way wind and rain caused a leak around the casing, weakening the structure and taking away from the sturdiness of the wall. It looks superficial now, but it shows a weakness in its current state. If the damage isn't repaired, the window will eventually fall out and shatter. Then it has completely lost its value as part of the building.

Solomon's sermon about the vanities of life - the things that look good but have no eternal value - speaks directly to our hearts today. The work of our hands means nothing if it's not done for the glory of God. Working to have more money or more stuff is useless in God's eyes. As king, Solomon had anything and everything he ever wanted, but it was worthless. He thought the stuff of this life would fulfill him and make him happy, but he saw that it was all for nothing.

His final words sum it up nicely. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Does your heart look like this window, really pretty on the outside but falling apart inside? All the Lord wants is for your to work for Him, making your insides and your outsides match for His glory. Let's praise Him today for putting an eternal focus on the work of our hands and the condition of our hearts.

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