(October 12, 2014)
I love the language that he that trusts in vanity will receive vanity in return. Knowing that vanity means temporal things, this scripture seems to be a nugget of the purest truth. It is hard to see others who are making bad choices seem to be blessed temporally while we may be struggling temporally. We see opportunities that we can take to circumvent certain temporal limitations – all it would require would be to deviate from the truth a little bit. We can take a shortcut – we see those around us doing it all the time and they receive what we desire.
But when we take shortcuts to achieve what we want – and even when we put the temporal things we want first – we are trusting in vanity. And even if we receive what we want, it will likewise be vanity.
This is true in a spiritual context as well. I have seen those missionaries who have attempted to convert people through manipulative tactics. Their trust in their persuasive force is a trust in vanity, and the net result might be baptisms but the conversions are often shallow, social, and temporary. They trusted vanity, and they received vanity as their reward.
I have seen this in other families where the children have gone astray – the parents have trusted in vanity to raise their children (even in the Gospel), and the children have then left the Church because their testimonies were only vanity. What is particularly painful, of course, is how I did the very same thing (and, even more frustratingly, I am constantly slipping back into the habits of the past – fortunately less so, but it still happens). I used techniques to achieve what I thought were righteous ends, but these techniques were nothing more than trusting in vanity – and, not surprisingly, my reward was vanity and a temporal and shallow and superficial and temporary result. Now, having see my error and mistake, I am left to wonder if this mistake is permanent. But whether it is or is not, the lesson learned is the same – he who trusts vanity receives vanity as a reward. As I do not want vanity as my reward, I cannot trust vanity as a means regardless of how easy that would seem to be.