Malls: Halls of Vanities :: By Keith Black

Vanity: something that is vain, empty, or valueless (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

What would Solomon say about big shopping malls, especially during the holiday shopping season, if he were to visit them today? He would probably say something like, ‘Malls, the halls of vanities! Full of vanities! Vanity of vanities! All is vanity, like chasing the wind!’

When I visited a big mall, the products that I saw there served no useful purposes. There were all these fancy clothes, jewelry, and all sorts of makeup. All sorts of fancy furniture and decorative items. And tons of toys. Every manner of luxuries. All these items are expensive too. I was not accustomed to seeing all this since I do most of my shopping at places like Walmart, Sams, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or other low-cost stores.

When I saw all these vanity items that serve no useful purpose, I thought all that was absolutely crazy. It reminded me of what Solomon said about vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2 and 1:14).

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for [chasing after] the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Today, it could be paraphrased as, “Malls, the halls of vanities! All (that shopping in malls) is vanities like chasing (on Black Fridays or other major holiday shopping days) the wind (and bad traffic at malls, circling the parking lot trying to find a parking space)!”

With the Christmas shopping season coming up soon, you can expect large numbers of people to head back to the malls, the halls of vanities. I avoid Black Friday like the plague. It is too hard to get a parking space, where you chase the wind (and traffic) around the parking lot trying to get a parking space. My family did not go to malls very often because the traffic was so bad. Avoid the halls of vanities like the plague.

In recent years, violent fights have broken out at malls during Black Friday sales, when there were only a limited number of the popular toys. There were deadly stampedes at the entrances of stores where everyone tried to get in at one time.

“Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4).

In recent years, some of the vanities shifted online to places like Amazon, where all sorts of vanities show up. Yes, the most expensive vanity luxury goods show up online, too. Stuff all over the world appears on online platforms. There are additional non-material intangible vanities on social media, where people post selfies in seeking fame. Playing addictive games on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. “Friends” on the internet are not real friends and can’t substitute for real physical friends or family.

“Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better? (Ecclesiastes 6:11).

There are vanities of all types like you have never seen before. It is all empty and can’t substitute for having Jesus in your life.