The Vanity of Life and Works By George Stroh, Senior Pastor March 15, 2001
"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever." (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)
I was looking though the 1942 college year book of my late father-in-law, Jack Hart. As I looked at the faded pictures and read the hand written notes from his friends and classmates, I was reminded of what Solomon wrote long ago; "All is vanity... A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever."
Those young, vibrant people pictured in Jack's old year book all had big dreams, plans and hopes for the future. Broadcast journalist and author, Tom Brokaw, called them "the greatest generation" and in the years following graduation, they worked hard trying to fulfill those dreams. But now almost 70 years later, many of this generation are gone and, if the Lord tarries, they and all of their work will soon be nothing but fading memories, like Jack's old year book. In the New Testament James puts it this way; "... You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." (James 4:14)
The thought that I'm just a passing vapor, a puff of smoke, that my life is short and that I will soon vanish and be forever forgotten is rather depressing. But notice that Solomon has added a little modifying adverb that gives perspective and understanding to his proverb-- "...under the sun". In other words, all is vanity if life is only lived "under the sun", excluded and separated from God (beyond the sun) and without hope of life after physical death.
If my life and significance is limited to this physical realm, than I am no different than a soulless animal who is born, lives, dies and then is forever forgotten. But the Bible says that we are created by God in His own image, with an eternal spirit and a soul, as well as, a physical body. Those who belong to God through faith in Christ Jesus have eternal life and their good works have eternal value to God.
If your 5 year old draws you a picture, it probably wouldn't sell for much in a garage sale. Nevertheless that drawing has great value to you, not because it has intrinsic or market valve, but because it was the work of your child. You proudly and prominently display it on the front of your refrigerator for everyone to see. In the same way, God greatly values the life and good works of His children.
Yes, apart from God, your life and work is vanity and soon forgotten, like a passing cloud. A generation goes and new generation comes, followed by another generation and then another. But if you have a relationship with God through faith in the finished work of Christ, your life and work has lasting value and eternal significance to God. In a zillion years from now, you will still be with your heavenly Father who will love you and remember you forever. Your physical life is but a vapor. Make everyday count to the glory of God. Maranatha!