Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompense.
I. THE HABIT OF TRUSTING IN VANITY. The vanity spoken of is any empty ground of trust, like an island of floating weeds on which careless people build their homes, but which will be shattered, with all that is on it, in the first storm.
1. A delusion. We may be persuaded to accept what is not true. Our belief does not give any reality to the delusion; we are then trusting in vanity.
2. Self. We are all too ready to think our own resources greater than they are. Yet every man who trusts to himself supremely is trusting in vanity, for all are sinful, frail, and prone to err.
3. Man. The psalmist warns us against putting our trust in man (Psalm 118:8).
(1) As a friend. The best friends cannot help us in our greatest needs - in the guilt of sin, in the sorrow of a terrible loss, in the hour of death.
(2) As a priest. Some trust to the priest to do their religious duties for them, although they would not express themselves thus boldly. But the priest is a man, a sinner, needing himself the Saviour to whom every one of us can go directly for himself.
4. A creed. The creed may be true, yet if we trust to that, and not to Christ, we trust in vanity. Faith which saves is not the mental consent to a string of propositions; it is living confidence in a personal Saviour.
5. A Church. We are members of a Church, pro-resting the Christian faith and in communion with the brotherhood of Christians. Yet if our confidence is in the Church rather than in Christ our hope is vain. The Church is the body of those who are being saved; it is not the Saviour.
II. THE FATE OF TRUSTING IN VANITY. "Vanity shall be his recompense." Here, as elsewhere, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Let us consider the nature and course of this fate.
1. A postponed result. The vanity tempts with a plausible appearance of substantiality, it is not discovered the moment it is trusted. A man may so blind himself as to trust in vanity all his life, and at last die in his delusions. How great and fearful must be the final awakening of such a self-deceiver! There will be enough punishment for some men in the very discovery of the utter vanity of their hopes.
2. A sure result. Every man's future is moulded according to what he relies upon. His fate is determined by his God. If he worships mammon, self, or sin, his condition in the future will be the direct outcome of the present devotion of his heart. This is just a case of natural causation running into the spiritual life.
3. A miserable result. The vanity does not appear to be a very dreadful thing when it is first seen. Yet to possess it for ever as an inheritance is the punishment of its dupe. For when it is found out it must be loathed. Though we may trust in what is unsubstantial, we cannot live upon it. The soul that tries to support itself on lies and pretences will starve as surely as the body which is fed on nothing but air.
4. A merited result. The trust was not in evil, only in vanity. There was no choice of a positively bad or hurtful thing. The worst is vacancy and negation. Yet vacancy and negation are justly recompensed after their kind. The empty soul goes deservedly to outer darkness. We need a positive ground of faith. The only sure ground, the one Foundation, is Jesus Christ, He who trusts the Rock of Ages will not be recompensed with vanity. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.