What Does The Bible Say About Vanity

Vanity is an insidious force. It can cause us to have an inflated opinion of ourselves and our accomplishments, and even lead us down a path of destruction. But what does the Bible say about vanity?

The Bible is full of varied references to vanity. In the Old Testament, some of the most familiar passages include Ecclesiastes 1:2, which reads “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”, and Proverbs 22:4, which states “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” These passages may imply that vanity is to be discouraged, since pride and foolishness can lead to disaster.

Furthermore, the New Testament’s teachings are unequivocal in their disapproval of vanity. In Matthew 6:2, Jesus admonishes his followers to avoid vanity, warning that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” In Luke 12:15, he warns that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” In Romans 12:3, Paul compares those who give in to vanity to those who are led by God’s Spirit, saying that “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

But beyond these passages, Jesus’ teachings on vanity are much more nuanced than one might expect. For example, in Luke 14:11 Jesus suggests that a certain amount of vanity may be necessary to properly live out one’s life: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” This passage implies that a certain level of vanity—the kind that helps us succeed in life—is acceptable, as long as it is not taken to extremes.

Furthermore, the Bible also explains how vanity can be an effective tool to bring people together. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says that “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” In other words, even self-promotion can be valuable if it is done in the service of a higher purpose.

What’s more, vanity need not be seen as an inherently negative trait. The Bible suggests that when vanity is used to bring glory to God, it can be a positive force in our lives. For example, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes that “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Here, Paul is emphasizing that whatever actions we take—even actions that involve self-promotion—should be done for the purpose of glorifying God.

Vanity in Everyday Life

The Bible’s teachings on vanity can also be applied to our everyday lives. In Luke 14:11, Jesus implies that a certain level of vanity is necessary to properly live out one’s life, and this can be interpreted to mean that it is perfectly acceptable—and even beneficial—to take pride in our accomplishments. When we are proud of the things we have accomplished, this can give us the motivation to strive for even greater success.

At the same time, however, this does not give us an excuse to become arrogant or boastful. When we overstep these bounds, it can lead to dangerous territory. A sense of unchecked pride can quickly lead to a sense of entitlement, and ultimately cause us to neglect our duty to serve and care for others.

Ultimately, it is important to recognize that there is a line between confidence and vanity, and that it is crucial to stay on the right side of that line. As the Bible teaches us, vanity is not something to be completely avoided, but rather, embraced in appropriate amounts, and avoided in excess.

Vanity and Discernment

The Bible also stresses the importance of discernment when it comes to matters of vanity. Proverbs 3:5-6, for instance, states “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” In other words, we must recognize that God is in control, and that He has a plan for our lives. This means that we must be careful not to make choices based solely on vanity, but rather, to trust that God has something better in store for us.

At the same time, however, it is important for us to take ownership of our choices. We should strive to make decisions based on what we believe to be right, rather than simply trying to do what makes us look good. As Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” In other words, it is more important to be respected than to be admired.

To sum up, the Bible has a lot to say about vanity. By carefully considering the Bible’s teachings, we can learn to balance vanity with wisdom, and use it in moderation. In this way, we can enjoy the benefits of being confident in ourselves without succumbing to pride.

Vanity in the World Today

It’s no secret that our world is filled with vanity. We are constantly bombarded with images and messages that encourage us to strive for success, glamour, and self-promotion. From advertisements to social media, it has become increasingly difficult to resist the power of vanity. We must be careful, however, not to allow vanity to obscure our vision and lead us down a destructive path.

The problem is that vanity can be difficult to identify. We may become consumed with comparing ourselves to others and striving for a certain level of perfection. We may even become obsessive about our appearance or our possessions, or about achieving a certain level of recognition or success. It is only when we recognize the signs of vanity that we can take steps to combat it.

The good news is that there are steps we can take to counteract the power of vanity. The most important thing is to focus on being content with ourselves and our accomplishments. We must remember that our value comes from within and not from outward appearances or worldly acclaim. Furthermore, we can practice humility by respecting others, helping those in need, and placing our trust in God.

Vanity and Humility

The Bible offers us a valuable lesson in how to reconcile vanity and humility. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This passage teaches us that it is possible to take pride in our accomplishments while also recognizing the value and achievements of others.

The key here is to remain humble and grounded in our actions. Instead of striving for attention and recognition at all costs, we should strive to be generous, selfless, and considerate. This is the path that Jesus modeled, and it should be something that all of us strive for.

Ultimately, there is great wisdom to be found in the Bible’s teachings about vanity. By properly understanding and applying these teachings to our lives, we can enjoy the positive aspects of vanity without becoming overly prideful.

Applications of Bible’s Teachings on Vanity

The Bible’s teachings on vanity can be applied to everyday life. We can use the Bible’s advice to find healthy ways to express our feelings of self-worth. Furthermore, we can use these teachings to help us distinguish between confidence and vanity. This can help us avoid becoming overly proud of our accomplishments and instead strive for humility.

One of the most important things the Bible teaches us about vanity is the importance of discernment. It is important to recognize that it is possible to be confident in ourselves and our abilities without succumbing to vanity. This can help us stay on the right side of the line between healthy self-esteem and unchecked pride.

Additionally, the Bible’s teachings can be used to help us avoid the pitfalls of excessive self-promotion. We must strive to recognize when our efforts to promote ourselves are simply a mask for our own insecurities. Furthermore, we should strive to make our decisions based on what we believe to be right rather than simply trying to do what makes us look good.


In conclusion, the Bible offers us valuable insight into the complex issue of vanity. It teaches us to find a healthy balance between self-worth and humility, and to strive for a life that is focused on doing good, both for ourselves and for others. Furthermore, it warns us to remain vigilant in discerning between confidence and vanity, and to use our best judgement to make decisions that will bring us closer to becoming the people God wishes us to be.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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