“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
Jonah was praying to God from within the belly of the whale. Three days of chastisement had been working on the heart and attitude of the disobedient preacher. God heard Jonah’s prayer, released him to dry ground, and gave him a second opportunity to carry God’s Word to Nineveh. In Jonah’s prayer, he stated, “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
Tremendous truth is contained in his renewed perspective. Lying vanities are empty and deceitful bits of information. Satan is skillful in sending us lying vanities. Jonah had been guilty of observing some of these lies. Examples of lying vanities would be thoughts like, “God is not good,” or “Sin can bring fulfillment,” or “God would never forgive me or give me another chance.” We err when we observe these lies by taking them to heart or believing them. When we believe a lie, there can be damaging consequences.
One result when people observe lying vanities is that they “forsake their own mercy.” It is assuring to know that there is mercy available to us, but Jonah tells us that when we believe lying vanities, we forsake or turn away from the mercy or goodness God has for us. Jonah rebelled against God’s will and fled from the Lord’s presence. In his mind, Jonah must have been convinced that God’s will was not best. He believed things that were not true. When we observe lying vanities, these lies become, in our minds, as though they were true. The more a person believes a lie, the truer it becomes in his mind. We must learn to recognize and reject lying vanities. False imaginations can lead us far from the will and ways of God. Many people have been deceived by these lying vanities, and like Jonah, they paid a great price for their spiritual detours.
How can we recognize lying vanities? We must bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and make certain that the information we believe is in agreement with the Word of God. The standard of truth is the Scripture. If the things we have believed in our minds are not consistent with the Bible, then they are lies. If we can discern lying vanities, we will not observe or believe them. We forsake, or forfeit, God’s goodness in our lives when we observe lying vanities. As we grow in the Lord, may we learn to compare spiritual things with spiritual and reject information that contradicts truth.