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Vain Things

We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. Acts 14:15

We are prone to chase after vain things. What are vain things? They are things that are useless or worthless. They are things that cannot fully deliver what they promise. Things become vain when we seek to place them in the place where God should be. In essence vain things are idols. When Paul urged the people of Lystra to turn from these vain things, he was urging them to turn from worshiping false gods. Paul had just healed a man who had never walked, and in response the people wanted to worship him and Barnabas. They looked at the miraculous work that had taken place and attributed them to Paul and then to their false gods, Hermes and Zeus. Paul wanted them to look higher. They were willing to settle for a couple of sinful men and the idea of imperfect gods. Why were they so quick to worship Paul and Barnabas? They were looking for salvation; they were looking for something or someone bigger than themselves. They were looking for something or someone to fulfill their void. It would seem they were also ruled by their emotions. They were caught up in the moment and just wanted to celebrate. They did not give a lot of thought to what they were doing or saying. They were easily distracted by vain things. 

Paul calls on them to turn from these things and implores them to turn to the living God. These people had turned from the Creator to worshiping created things (Romans 1:23). Anytime we turn to created things as opposed to the One who created all things, we will be disappointed. Samuel, the Old Testament prophet and judge, warned the Israelites of the same thing when they insisted on having a king. 

And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 1 Samuel 12:21

We are easily distracted by created things. The people of Israel looked at other nations who had kings and thought that their problems would be solved if they could just have a king. They appeared to think their constant struggles with being oppressed and having inconsistent judges could be solved with a monarchy. However, just as the people in Lystra, they were not looking deep enough. They wanted to be like the other nations that were strong enough and thought if they simply had a king that would fix it. However, their issues were due to the fact that they kept forgetting the Lord and all that He had done for them. They kept turning to vain things instead of turning to the Creator. Just like Paul challenged the people in Lystra, Samuel challenged the Israelites:

Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24

We will be tempted to put our hope and confidence in vain things today. When those thoughts come, remind yourself of the fact that we worship the God who created all things. Let created things turn your sight to the One who created all things and worship Him.

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