|John Singer Sargent: Marionettes|
All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players
When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.
William Shakespeare, King Lear
Vainglory gets very little press these days despite its large presence in the world around us. Like the deadly sin of sloth it has been relegated to the dusty archives of "what used to be considered sin but is sin no more". While pride still has negative connotations associated with it, pride's deadly "daughter" is usually unobtrusive and overlooked.
Which makes vainglory deadlier than ever. When you can no longer see your enemy it gives your enemy a great advantage over you.
Why IS vainglory so deadly?
As I mentioned in The Seven Deadly Sins in the Moral Decline of America, each of the deadly sins makes an idol of something other than God. For instance, pride makes a god of self while greed makes money its idol. In the case of vainglory, its idol is other people.
Vainglory is very much tied up with the negative trait of people pleasing. While this is not as overbearing as pride, it can be dangerous because it can get to the point where we are more concerned with pleasing people than God. It's important to remember that we are bound to that which we love and in the case of vainglory this can leave us tied to another's opinion of us and who we are. I've written about this many times on my blog because this was such a problem for me for so many years and is still something I battle against. It's one thing to love a person, another thing altogether, their opinions.
The problem with vainglory is that it can make you feel as if you are a puppet while others are the puppeteers. Whenever we are bound to something other than God we are giving the reins of our lives over to something other than God.
And the last thing we want is to be enslaved to other people whose nature is fallen just as our own is. Especially since vainglory uses fear of others as its shackles. We act a certain way because we fear what people think about us. We follow the crowd because we fear that we will end up alone and rejected. We want to look good before man because we fear others will speak ill of us. Fear, fear, fear. We end up driven by fear.
All the deadly sins use fear as their fetters in some way or another and only perfect love casts out fear. We could say that "perfect love" casts out the seven deadly sins and as long as we do not have perfect love we will be troubled by them to some extent. Do you want to know your idols? Look at your greatest fears. When we fear others won't approve of us and we do things to garner this approval instead of doing it for the right reason, we have gained our reward.
Man, sometimes after writing about the seven deadly sins I feel sick to my stomach.
(In my next post I speak about the deadly sins, our thoughts, and the importance of humility in our battle against them.)