Most of us believe that whatever we are doing is important. I know when I wake up in the morning it’s really easy to begin focusing on the tasks at hand and all the things I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming day. Each day we have a brand new opportunity to be productive. Most of us will go to our jobs and provide for our families. This is a good thing. This is biblical and it’s God honoring. Isn’t it?
Well I guess it depends on your perspective.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved
sleep. – Psalm 127:1-2
There is something very interesting about the Word of God. It’s mostly, easy to understand. There is nothing difficult about what this says. We don’t need an in depth study of each word to understand the message. There are two groups of people that will read this and take away very different understandings.
There is a warning contained in this passage for the unbelieving. This warning is clear. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ everything in your life is vanity. The word vanity in short means “useless”. Your existence is useless. It means that it is literally and figuratively ruined (morally). The unbeliever has a morally bankrupt life, and yet they have no concept of this. They believe their existence matters.
If I was to interview Oprah Winfrey, she would believe that her work is really making a difference. She would believe that her building of schools, her building of wells to provide water and educating young girls, is having a positive effect on the world around her. She believes, without a doubt, that she is building a city and it has meaning. I can feel the pushback already, because when I hear her words, and I know what she believes, then I lay her words on top of God’s Word, these two don’t go together.
Her building is vanity. It’s useless, because it is not built on Christ. It is not built by the LORD. It is vain for her to rise early and to stay up late. When we really get past the emotion of this, we can see that all of this is vanity.
Then we have a call to the Christian. For the Christian these things do matter. This is not permission to be lazy in our efforts. Christian’s should be the best workers they can be, and should always give full effort to what they do, in no way is this a call not to be diligent in our work. However, we should not call upon our own desires and our own wisdom in taking on these endeavors. All good things come from God, but we must act. There will be effort on our part, and that effort will be toil and difficult. God Himself has said that would be His curse upon the sons of Adam.
What are we to do with all of this, because it’s really difficult for most of us to think about how much vanity is all around us? I know that I’m challenged in my life when I think about it. I must really consider how many people I pass in a day that their lives are ultimately useless. I say that not to be hard but to awaken my conscience to their dire condition. I must preach to them because it’s their only hope.
If you are a believer, consider those around you and the message we must give that will be unpopular. As I said at the beginning, most of us believe we matter. Every person on this earth is created in the image of God and are therefore valuable and we have no idea how God will use them. We know that many will perish in their sin, but as far as we are concerned we have a job to do. We must tell them that God is holy, and there is coming a day of judgment. Will you build your house in vain, or will you build your house for the glory of God?