~ “To Thine Own Self Be True” ~
This posting is a response to a blog entitled “7 Things You Won’t Find in the Bible… I Dare You to Look.” I am taking that challenge! The fourth listed phrase was “To thine own self be true.” I would agree that the phrase is not found in our English Bible—but what about the principle behind the phrase?
Words by themselves are meaningless—it is only when we attach meaning to the words that communication occurs. The principle behind this phrase can be found in the Bible, but the phrase can be heresy when different meanings are behind the words and the phrase.
“To Thine Own Self Be True” ~ The author of that piece supported his position with the following. “When prompting people to follow their conscience on matters, the oft-touted ‘To thine own self be true’ is occasionally cited as a Biblical recommendation. In truth, this saying originates in the Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet. Polonius, the older counselor of Prince Hamlet's uncle, King Claudius, is in the midst of dispensing advice to his son Laertes (who was about to leave Denmark and return to France) when he speaks forth the famous line: ‘This above all things: to thine own self be true’ (Hamlet, 3.1.81).”
To that blogger’s credit, he goes on to say, “But really how good is Polonius's advice? Scripturally, we can only trust our conscience to guide us as far as it is being informed by the Spirit of God. Men, of their natural selves, are entirely corrupted; and so, to hold true to themselves would be to choose poorly indeed. Rather, we should seek God in prayer and ask Him to guide us in the paths of righteousness (cf. Psalm 23:3).”
A clear message of the Word of God is that God wants integrity of character in His children above all else. Character is more important than performance or external results!
King David knew this, “I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with my integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17).
Consider also, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner” (Proverbs 13:6).
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b).
If “to thine own self be true” is talking about walking consistently according to the directions of Scripture—about walking in integrity, then certainly this principle is from the Bible.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW