What profit all the labor here

What profit all the labor here?
There’s nothing new for you and me!
Remember not the former things,
  They’re all vanity!
  Vanity! Vanity!
Vanity! Vanity!
’Tis chasing the wind,
  It’s all vanity!
Man’s life is full of grief and pain:
Much wisdom bringeth misery!
Increasing knowledge addeth woe!
  It’s all vanity!
What good our pleasure and our wealth?
Though joys we have and family,
We’ll have our worries just the same!
  It’s all vanity!
Days of toil to gain and restless nights:
Though gained without calamity,
When death comes it is gone for aye!
  It’s all vanity!
Remember God in days of youth!
Fear Him, and such will be your gain!
With Him you will be satisfied,
  For He is not vain!
  Christ without, all is vain!
Christ within, all is gain!
  All things are vain,
    Christ only is gain!

Copyright Living Stream Ministry. Used by permission.


Derby, Hsinchu, Taiwan

Time does not wait~ Remember God in days of our youth! Lets fear Him! Lets gain him!

Christ without, all is vain!

Christ within, all is gain!

Sister Vali Ruth

Tirane, Albania

Christ without, all is vain

Joseph Kwasi Emeh

Tema, Greater Accra, Ghana

Yes indeed all is vanity

Because God has place eternity in our hearts to seek him


Stephen Bellingham

United States

“Christ without all is vain

Christ within all is gain”


Round Rock, TX, United States

I get it!! It took me many years...but I understand now.

I also compiled some gospel songs, including "You Need Jesus!" (Hymns, #1024) and "Vanity! Vanity!" (Hymns, #1080). When I was in Foochow, Brother Nee made changes to these. Afterward, they were published in Shanghai. Because I felt that the content should be expanded and polished further, I spoke with him about gospel songs and asked him to polish them.

Hymns, #1080 speaks of the vanity of human life. Regardless of the circumstances, man has a strong sense that things are vain if he is without God. The chorus of this hymn says, "Vanity! Vanity! / Vanity! Vanity! / "Tis chasing the wind, / It's all vanity!" Even when people consider their parents, husbands, wives, and children, they have a sense of vanity. In such cases the hymn can be changed to say, "Parents are vain! / Children are vain! / Husbands are vain! / Wives are vain! / 'Tis chasing the wind, / It's all vanity!" This sense of vanity also covers teachers, students, schools, and work, so the hymn also could say, "Teachers are vain! / Students are vain! / Schools are vain! / Work is vain! / 'Tis chasing the wind, / It's all vanity!"

At some point in our human life, we all have a sense of the vanity of human life: work is vain, adults are vain, children are vain, houses are vain, buying and selling are vain, and riches are vain. Everyone and everything are vain: you are vain, I am vain, clothing is vain, food is vain, staying at home is vain, traveling is vain, east is vain, west is vain, south is vain, north is vain, ancient times are vain, and modern times are vain. Everything in human life eventually causes people to sense the vanity of human existence without God. The Chinese are fond of speaking about blessings, wealth, longevity, and happiness. In fact, blessings are vain, wealth is vain, longevity is vain, and happiness is vain. It is not a coincidence that newspapers and magazines often have stories about successful people who have committed suicide. This shows the uncertainty of everything and that efforts to find something certain is like chasing the wind.

Are our husbands, wives, riches, positions, houses, and knowledge dependable? Even if we depend on these things, they can be gone in the twinkling of an eye. Today's happiness often is the source of tomorrow's grief. Nothing and no one on earth are reliable. The preceding message spoke of God's existence, whereas this message speaks of the vanity of man's existence. In regard to man the only word is vanity. Man experiences vanity because he is full of vanity and not satisfied inwardly. Instead, he is hungry, thirsty, and empty. He is full of anguish rather than rest, sorrow rather than joy. Some may say that they are too busy to feel empty but after many years everyone senses the tediousness of human life.

Hymns are the best weapon in preaching the gospel. A man's mind is harder than his heart, and changing his mind is more difficult than touching his heart. Hymns are the best tool for touching a man's heart. We have many gospel hymns, and we should learn them one by one so that we can sing and declare them all the time. For example, Hymns, #1024 speaks of our need for Jesus, and Hymns, #1080 speaks of the vanity of everything. We should learn these hymns, and we can write them on paper and put them up in the house, or we can make note cards and place them on the dining table. Then when people come to our house, we can sing these hymns with them.

Today we have things that people did not have thirty years ago, such as tape recorders and other audio devices. We can make good use of them to play gospel hymns at home. We can give tapes to those who drive to work, and we can play songs to those who ride with us to work. In the office, if circumstances allow, we can play music for people during our break times. We should make good use of every opportunity. People may oppose us if we preach the gospel, but no one will oppose us if we sing hymns. Singing hymns will sow the seed of the gospel into people, little by little. We should not only use the Bible verses in a flexible way but also use the hymns in a flexible way. The effective preaching of the gospel depends on our flexibility. We need to spread the gospel through big meetings and small groups, through contacting people and making phone calls, and through tracts and tape recorders. After we have done all these things, some results will gradually be manifested.

In relation to preaching the gospel, there are two categories of hymns that we should be familiar with. The first category is gospel hymns, and the second is hymns on the assurance of salvation. We have many gospel hymns. Hymns, #1080 was written using the thought of the book of Ecclesiastes. There is also #1024, which we used in the gospel marches that we had in the early days in Taiwan. When we sing a gospel hymn, we should not be too concerned about the music; otherwise, we will lose the flavor of the hymn. Instead, we should express the feeling of the hymn.

Hymns, #1080, which was written based on Ecclesiastes, depicts the actual condition of human life. The real condition of life is neither good fortune nor misfortune. Actually, both good fortune and misfortune are useless. The true condition of human life can be summed up in one word, vanity. The wise king Solomon said that a man has no advantage in all his work which he does under the sun, and a generation goes and another generation comes, yet there is no remembrance of those who were before; hence, all is vanity of vanities (Eccl. 1:2-11). All things of the human life are vanity, like pursuing after shadows and chasing after wind; they are fleeting and short-lived.

We must now consider what man's possession is. Psalm 16:5 says, "Jehovah is the portion of My inheritance and of My cup; / You maintain My lot." An inheritance is a possession. The land is not our real possession; rather, God is our possession. The land is merely a type, a symbol, and a figure. How can we say that God is man's possession? From Genesis 1:26 and Romans 9:21-23 we can see clearly that man was created by God to be His vessel. A vessel as a container is empty by itself; hence, it needs content. The content of a vessel is its possession. An empty cup is a destitute cup. One who is thirsty desires a drink, but an empty cup cannot quench his thirst. To be empty is to be poor, and to be poor is to be empty. Man is a vessel of God; hence if man does not have God, he is empty and poor. The first chorus of Hymns, #1080 says, "Vanity! Vanity! / Vanity! Vanity! / 'Tis chasing the wind, / It's all vanity!" The last chorus says, "Christ without, all is vain! / Christ within, all is gain! / All things are vain, / Christ only is gain!" Man without Christ is vain. Hence, man's real possession is not land or a house, and neither is it a wife or children; man's possession is God. God created man as His vessel to contain Him. If we as a vessel do not have God as our content, we are empty and poor.