Vanities

In Children’s church we sang this:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see;
Be careful little eyes what you see.
There’s a Father up above and He’s looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.

We weren’t done. We went on to warn our little ears, hands, feet and mouths, convincing each of us of the extreme havoc we were capable of producing, little though we may have been.

Now, as adults, it is still good advice.

The Poet says it this way:

“Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.”

The Eyes Have It.
Of our five senses: smell, hearing, touch, taste, and sight, the eyes provide us with more information than any other ability. We even transfer the concept of sight to the recognition of invisible things—we “see” things in our minds. When we understand something we have heard we say, “Now, I see.”

  • We “see” math problems and their solution.
  • We “see” music on the page.
  • We “see” the ideal of freedom enough to treasure it and fight those who would take it away.
  • In worship, we “see” the Lord High and Lifted Up and we are changed even as we contemplate His glory.

The Power of Reflection
Everything that meets our eyes is a reflection of light. This is the process of vision: rays of light bounce off an object and speed to our eyes which pass the report on to the brain which interprets it at speeds faster than light. Like a camera, the brain records what we have seen for future reference.

Just as we can “see” in so many ways, there are many things to be seen. Many of them are wonderful things like those listed above plus the wonders of nature delivered in living color to our eyes every moment.

But many other things are what the Bible calls vanities.

How can we tell a vanity from a wonder of nature or a wonderful truth? It really isn’t difficult. The wonders of creation speak to us of the Creator. The high and wonderful things we “see” in our minds—faith, hope, love, peace, joy, truth—are reflections of the character and promises of God.

Just as objects reflect light, vanities are reflections of our own fallen humanity.
When we look deeply into vanities, deeper than the colors and shapes, the designs and delights, we see our own face, our own selfishness, ambitions, drives, and lusts. Even when the Blood of Jesus has cleansed us from these things, the contemplation of them—setting these vanities before our eyes—can reawaken them and lead us into temptation.

We must turn our eyes away from the world’s vanities to the truly beautiful things of the Kingdom of God. We must absorb the glory of the Glory reflecting all around us as well as the “invisible” things we see in the Word. As we do, His glory will do two essential things:

  • Cleanse our hearts like a holy flame to make us more like Him and
  • be reflected from us to others. When He shines in us, others can see Him!

This is important stuff—So, be careful little eyes what you see.

Scriptures:
Psalm 119
My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your word.  When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes.  Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.  Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me your law.  I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your ordinances before me. I cling to your decrees, O Lord; let me not be put to shame.  I run the way of your commandments, for you enlarge my understanding. Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end.  Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.   Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.  Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.  Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you.  Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good.  …  I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought your precepts.  I will also speak of your decrees before kings, and shall not be put to shame; I find my delight in your commandments, because I love them.  I revere your commandments, which I love and I will meditate on your statutes.
Ecclesiastes 12:8-14 NKJV
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. … 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.
Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true … noble … right … pure… is lovely… admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Mark 9:47-49 NIV
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…
Psalm 101:2-3 NIV
I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is so much that You do for me but this is my responsibility. I will set no evil thing before my eyes to contemplate—to do so is to invite trouble and sin into my life. Help me be so caught up in You that I take no note whatsoever of the vanities of this world around me. Help me to do as the Bible says, to concentrate on the good things, the proven things of this life and the one to come. Help me hear the message of King Solomon: Life is full of vanities but the whole of being a human is to worship God and keep Your commandments! Thank You, Lord!

Song:
Be Careful Little Eyes
Traditional Children’s Song

O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see

O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little ears what you hear
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little ears what you hear

O be careful little hands what you do
O be careful little hands what you do
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little hands what you do

O be careful little feet where you go
O be careful little feet where you go
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little feet where you go

O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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