A mind devoted to vain cares knows not how to keep measure.
- Columbanus, Verses to Hunaldus, Irish, 7th century
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
- Ecclesiastes 1.2
Solomon described as “vanity” anything in life undertaken from any perspective other than that of knowing, trusting, serving, and honoring God. In Ecclesiastes, he referred to this perspective as living “under the sun.”
People are made to live “under the heavens”, he advised his son – that is, with one eye always on the Lord and our hearts continuously open to His counsel and leading. To live otherwise is to live “under the sun” – that is, with material reality the farthest horizon we can envision.
People who live under the sun are constantly occupied with the things they can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. They experience bouts of anxiety and uncertainty. Their time is given to making sure they are as satifsifed and comfortable as they can be. They live mostly in the present only, without much regard for things past, future, or transcendent.
Yet this perspective can never satisfy the deep needs of the soul. God has put eternity in our hearts, and when our minds are filled with worldly ambitions and vain cares, we can’t take the true measure of things. We’re not looking at the whole of reality, so we don’t see any of it as it really is.
If we’re always thinking and fussing about relationships, work, cultural activities, and political involvement from an “under the sun” perspective, we’re always going to be disappointed in the results, because we’ll never be able to use, enjoy, or benefit from these things the way God intends. Peace and joy do not derive from the things or circumstances of this world. They come from above, and are accessed by living under the heavens.
The more we live “under the heavens” in every area of our lives, the more satisfying and fruitful our lives will be. We who know Jesus Christ have the high privilege of possessing His mind, so that we can see and know things the way that God does – not completely, but truly (1 Cor. 2.16; Eccl. 3.11). And thus, with peace and joy.
This means that every task at work, every conversation, every meeting, every bill to be paid, each problem or trial, everything we do with our spouses or children – all these can be “under the heavens” experiences, filled with meaning, significance, truth, goodness, beauty, hope, peace, and joy.
We don’t have to live empty, unsatisfying lives. Rather, trusting in Jesus, looking to Him, and drawing closer to Him, let us lay aside all vain cares and take the true measure of our everyday reality, until we are able to discover the glory with which it is fraught, increasingly, day by day.
Set your mind on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in heavenly places (Col. 3.1-3). Now, living from that perspective, let the hope in which you stand fill and beautify everything you do (Rom. 5.1, 2; 1 Pet. 3.15).
1. What would you consider to be the keys to living from an “under the heavens” perspective?
2. How can believers encourage one another to live more consistently from this perspective?
Psalm 47.7-9 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God is the King of all the earth, sing praise to Him with glorious psalms!
He rules the nations by Hiw worth, and on His throne receives their alms.
Princes of peoples gather all to Abraham and to our God.
Exalt the Lord, and on Him call – the earth is His, so praise our God!
Lord, take away every vain care or thought and help me to see things as You do so that I…
Jesus over all
We must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ is ruling over all and doing all things well. Our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth?, can help you see your life more consistently from that “under the heavens” perspective. Order your free copy by clicking here.
If you missed our recent ReVision series, “We Would See Jesus,” you can download the entire study by clicking here.
Personal Mission Field
Be sure to check out this month’s “Personal Mission Field Workshop” on being clear about our vision (click here).
We pray that, if Crosfigell ministers to you, you’ll consider sharing with us in the financial support of our ministry. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 187.