Concerning Vanity


Question: Do you see any dangers in telling the little children how “cute” they are?

Yeah, it doesn’t take them very long to learn how cute they are either. They have all these faces smiling and coochy-cooing them. I still cannot quite break my daughter of looking in the mirror while she is crying. As soon as she starts to cry, she heads for a mirror. Some of those things go back to how adorable everyone thought she was. For her sake, as well as ours, it’s good to be aware of those things. Not bone-crushing austerity, but the wisdom to know what it is we are doing.

Once I mentioned some of this to some folks in another city who had their six-year-old daughter all done up. They had her ears pierced, her hair done up perfectly, and she even had eye makeup on! I called the parents aside and said, “You are destroying this girl! Yeah, it’s adorable. I admit it. She is gorgeous. She is the prettiest six year old I’ve ever seen. But the last thing she needs is a whole parade of people going up and telling her that. She is going to get her perspective and priorities so off base that by the time she is fifteen you are going to wonder why she has phone calls all night long and ends up pregnant...And you will scratch your head and wonder how it happened. You are going to realize then, when it’s far too late, that you are primping her up for your own pride’s sake! You did it for your own benefit, and now it has destroyed your daughter because YOUR priorities were wrong!”

Question: Would it be best not to mention the cuteness of the children at all?

We do need to be aware of it and cautious, but it is in God’s heart to love his children. I love telling little ones when they look nice that they look nice. I think that’s in the heart of God. We all need to be able to respond to that with grace, with no fear. The definition of humility is not thinking too much of yourself, and not thinking too little of yourself. It’s just not thinking of yourself.

That’s the same way with every other thing in the kingdom of God. You could have pride in the fact that you were the president of a big company. You could have pride about your job as a janitor. Or you could have fear in one or fear in the other. It doesn’t make any difference. The issue isn’t what you do for a living. It’s not thinking too much of it or thinking too little of it. It’s just not thinking of it. We need to have an attitude that is indifferent towards all these things. To be indifferent towards a nice dress is a far better attitude than thinking too much of it, or thinking too little of it. God invented color. He invented beauty. He invented all of those things. It was His idea—the beauty of holiness. God did His creation in a pretty magnificent way. Even our physical bodies are praised by God as being tremendous workmanship. To just cover all that up in austerity as a monk or something is to defy God and the gifts that He has given. To deny His gifts is as nearly foolhardy as to worship His gifts. The goal is to not think too much of it or too little of it—just to be indifferent. Whatever you receive, give praise to God for it—give Glory to God for it. Pass it on. Don’t be like Herod and be eaten by worms because you refuse to pass it on.

I don’t know how to define that in really clear terms, but don’t turn it around the other way and make some kind of cultic thing out of it where you are dressed in sackcloth and ashes. Respect beauty, admire beauty. If you go back and read Ezk. 28, the creation that God did in lucifer is pretty awesome. God did that on purpose. But, lucifer forgot that he was reflecting God’s glory and thought that he was emanating glory. Lucifer got it mixed up. God wanted it to be beautiful, but he wanted lucifer to see that he was reflecting God’s glory, rather than emanating glory as a source in himself.

Along with that is that we must see beyond the physical. So often we don’t see the beautiful child that is inside that beautiful dress. We don’t see the attitudes of the heart that go along with that. So often we are so indifferent. We grew up seeing the physical. That’s all we see.
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