Is Vanity A Sin? When Self-Worth Becomes Toxic

“None are so empty as those who are full of themselves”

Benjamin Wichcote

The first thing that comes to mind when we hear “vanity” is someone who is outwardly full of themselves for one reason or another. It could be pride over their physical appearance or achievements.

But what makes it any different from healthy self-esteem? And is vanity a sin according to Christianity?

Is vanity a sin?

Vanity is a sin.

There are no two ways about it. In fact, it is classified under pride under the seven deadly sins. The main difference between this kind of pride and self-worth is simply comparison.

According to the theory of social comparison, self-esteem crosses the line to toxicity the moment we start comparing ourselves with others. Vanity, in particular, occurs when you begin to consider yourself better than some people or become obsessed with those you feel are better than you.

These thoughts are all-consuming, and whether the physical appearance, career achievements, or any other kind of success, they are almost always followed by a major slice of humble pie from the world.

What does the Bible say about vanity?

We have already established that it is considered a sin in most religions. For some perspective, here are some of the most famous quotes about vanity by great men of God.

It is all meaningless

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Few people in the Bible or the world can say they have tasted actual vanity. King Solomon, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, truly had it all. He had power, wealth, popularity, and an awesome relationship with God.

If Biblical accounts and the hoards of women who followed him are anything to go by, we can conclude that he was a good-looking man.

However, he had the wisdom to understand that it didn’t mean anything to God at the end of the day.

It is temporary

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

Like his son Solomon, David had every opportunity to be vain, but he understood that nothing mattered in the grand scheme. Most of his proverbs repeatedly mention the power and importance of humility.

The proverbs on a dutiful woman best portray the worthlessness of vanity due to its fleeting nature.

All that matters is our spiritual connection with God

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Sam 16:7

Even the greatest of us can sometimes be blinded by the vain filters of life. The biggest mistake is thinking that God values the same superficial things that we do. Samuel learned this when he was called to crown David, a scrawny nobody, to be the King of the Israelites.

In conclusion

Is vanity a sin? Absolutely, and it is one of the easiest traps to fall for. Based on the quotes about vanity in the Bible, we can only conclude that all that matters in this world is our relationship with God.

By all means, cultivate a spirit of self-love and appreciation of God’s blessings over your life. But do not, even for a moment, let yourself believe that it was all you or that it is all that matters. That is when self-worth becomes vanity.

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