Victory Over Vanity

Betrayal and rejection – none of us like these realities of life. In fact, we often try desperately to avoid them. Perhaps we faced rejection at an early age, either by parents and/or peers. Maybe we never quite measured up, or “fit in”. Maybe we never felt like we actually had approval and acceptance.

As a result, some of us grew determined and convinced that if we excel and reach a high enough level, we could escape rejection. We would grow rich enough, smart enough, popular enough and/or successful enough so that we wouldn’t ever have to endure rejection and betrayal again.

However, this is never the case, so we learn to build walls around our hearts. We isolate, and never allow others to get too close. We learn to have a pleasing personality that can “win friends and influence others,” but deep down, we never develop deep relationships because we don’t want to risk betrayal and rejection.

Any of this sound familiar? The end result to all of this is an obsession over self. It breeds vanity, because the focus is always on us – how others receive us, perceive us, and how they treat us. This unfortunately is also a healthy breeding ground for narcissism.

A potent word none of us ever want to relate or identify with, for we imagine the brutality of it. Yet, narcism gets its name from Greek mythology, and a hunter named Narcissus. His downfall came from Nemesis, who lured him to a reflection pool. He became so entranced by the beauty of his own reflection he couldn’t pull away and ultimately stayed there gazing at himself his entire lifetime – wasting countless years on vanity.

In reality, how many of us waste far too much time focusing on ourselves? Like Narcissus, we become transfixed on me, myself and I, and as a result, never truly live. If he could have just broken away, he could have experienced far more during his lifetime. Likewise, we will never fully experience all life has to offer until we learn to break away from self.

The Bible is straight forward and clear on this topic when it instructs us to “deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him” (Luke 9:23).

And following Him is the polar opposite to selfishness. Christ Himself faced the ultimate betrayal and rejection from His closest friends and His own people. Yet, He loved them anyway. His deepest desire and goal was to do the will of His Father rather than His own.

We can not live as Christ while at the same time consumed with ourself.

So, let us look away from our reflection and look to the cross. Let us trust God and live by faith and with courage – knowing we will face fear, rejection, betrayal, and loss. For in return, we receive a life free from the constricting chains of vanity.

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