The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
The first time I read Ecclesiastes, these verses in particular, I thought “Solomon truly was nuts!”. That was 30 years ago, now, I begin to understand it. Now, it seems, I’m nuts.
While I was marketing our chocolate brand online, it came to my realization that many people began to like our page before ever having a chance to taste what we offer. It occurred to me, what if they later tasted our chocolate, and realized it was only average, or worse? What if they had talked it up to their friends, told them about the new chocolate company in country, and how great it must be? It dawned on me, these people had buy-in, they had something at stake. There were no financial risks for them, but there was their reputation.
And then I began to apply this reasoning to other aspects of our lives, our families, our choice of mates, what phone we chose, the cars we drive. All have an influence on the words we choose, the things we purchase, the people we interact with. Left to our own devices, all is vanity.
When we “buy-in” to a friend, a mate, a politician, a neighborhood, or even a food; we find ourselves talking him, her, or it, up. It is our reputation at stake. It is our vanity, our pride; which when you think about it, tempers, paints, sometimes taints, so much of what we say and express.
I realize this is a dark path, something not so pleasant to speak of, think about.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
So is it evil to speak highly of others, or even things, that you think of as positive, good? Although an English teacher once warned us about clichés, it depends.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Our words matter, choose carefully. You just never know who might be listening, who might cling onto something you say, take it to heart. I find that when someone repeats something I’ve said, in the rare case they’re not mocking me (I jest, sort of), that it really burdens me that I’ve had that kind of influence over someone. I find myself re-examining the words, questioning their truth, and my frame of mind when I said them. And even in the case when I think the words repeated where not entirely true or valid, I find myself mute, because my own reputation is at stake.
And so what is that helps us to speak the truth, even when our reputation be risked? There is but one thing that helps us in that regard, Christ, and His love for us, our mutual love for him. Our thoughts, our words, our actions are naturally controlled by our hearts, our pride, self-preservation of our human reputations. Love, true love from Heaven above, is the only thing that can overcome this pride; it is the only thing that can cancel the motives of our naturally dark hearts.