Home > John's Blogs, Temptation & Sin > Seven Capital Vices, Part 3: Vainglory

Seven Capital Vices, Part 3: Vainglory

This post continues looking at Rebecca Konynkyk DeYoung’s book Glittering Vices, which is a look at what we commonly call the “7 deadly sins” and she calls the “7 capital vices.”  We’ve looked at Envy, and this post will look at Vainglory.  Frankly, I didn’t even know what this meant!  It sounds a little like pride, but it isn’t.  How would you define it?

In fact, vainglory is much more than pride.  DeYoung says “Vainglory is the excessive and disordered desire for recognition and approval from others.”  Vainglory is that part of us that toots our own horn; we want everyone to see and acknowledge our superiority.  Vainglory comes into our lives when we want that glory so badly that we will accept it even if we do not deserve it.

Vainglory infects all of us at some point.  Who has ever taken just a little bit of credit for something we don’t really deserve?  Who has ever not given credit to another that they deserve?  Who has ever exaggerated their story to make themselves look better, or make it funnier, or make themselves more sympathetic?  (I see those hands.)

DeYoung notes that pride and vainglory are different because pride wants to be number one, but vainglory doesn’t care – it just wants to be known as number one!  Recognition is more important than excellence.

DeYoung relies on Aquinas to point out the real problem with vainglory; namely, it occurs when we give glory to ourselves and fail to give glory to God.  Thus, it occurs in my life when I seek my own popularity and recognition of others rather than pointing others to God.  My mantra becomes, “More of me and less of Christ” because Christ steals my glory.  It’s not important to be a better Christian as long as I look like one.  She continues:

Why do we prefer to garner glory for ourselves, rather than letting God’s glory shine through us?  Maybe vainglory is the vice for those convinced deep down they will never really be good enough to shine without artificial lighting and a little extra polish.

What is the solution to vainglory as it crops up in our lives?  DeYoung suggests solitude and silence.  As we become silent, and stop vying for attention and attempting to get our seat at the table, we begin to see that our worth arises not from our own accomplishments and work, but from God’s work in our lives.

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