To Thine Own Self Be True — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

To Thine Own Self Be True — Morning Devotions

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 - be true to the person God made you to be.

By Chris WittsFriday 28 Jun 2024Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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I wasn’t a very alert student during my high school years, something I didn’t enjoy very much anyway. And living in a boarding school wasn’t my choice, but I was there just the same.

So when I was supposed to be learning about William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for example, I wasn’t really taking much notice. Unlike me, you may have seen the play or know the story. In Act one, Scene three, we see King Claudius, Chief Minister, a man named Poons, giving his son some fatherly advice. You see, he was on his way to university and Polonius gave this long speech, but he will be remembered best by this phrase. This, above all, to thine own self, be true, and it must follow as the night, the day thou canst not then be false to any man.

To thine own self be true

Shakespeare wrote Hamlet a long time ago in about 1600 I think, and I wanted this morning to think about that phrase. To thine own self be true. It’s still got some meaning for us today.

Good advice is timeless. Polo is telling his son to be authentic and genuine, which is usually pretty good advice. If you don’t pretend to be something you’re not, you won’t appear false to other people. But if you’re a pretender, a faker or a hypocrite, you may fool some people, but eventually you will appear false.  

If you are genuine, you’ll never have to worry about being exposed. After all, I am the only one who can speak the truth of who I am. Now is that correct? I think there’s a better option out there. You may not realise it, but every day your experiences and actions are shaping who you are. It was the tennis star Venus Williams, who said, “Just believe in yourself, even if you don’t – pretend that you do, and at some point you will.”

Pop singer Janet Jackson said, “Believe in yourself. Have faith in yourself because no one else is going to.”

So many people have their own opinion of how to be true to themselves. To be true to yourself means to be who you really are. No more, no less. When we close ourselves off to others, we lose a bit of ourselves. Actually, how do we get back to being ourselves?

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So we could say in modern language, be true to yourself? And isn’t that a good thing? There certainly is a time and a place for healthy self-reflection. It’s really unwise to go through life without stopping and reflecting on your life. Many believe that by focusing your full attention on your own needs and your own wants, you will discover your worth and unlock your happiness and take control of your life.

That is true, but we need to be careful not to take that too far. In the modern world, self has become the standard for happiness, love, worth and morality. In other words, I can do whatever I want as long as I’m being true to myself. But it was the great George Bernard Shaw who wrote, Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself, and that’s quite a different matter.

Creating yourself rather than finding yourself. Let me ask you this question, not only how do you see yourself, but where do you think your true identity lies? Does your true identity lie with public opinion? What society says or thinks now, if you are a Christian who believes in the Bible, God is the only one who made us, who formed us, sculpted us and created us in his image. And he has ordained our destiny. He is the only one who has the right to tell us what our identity is. We see so many negative things about ourselves, and so we start to identify by ourselves with our failures and struggles. Now I think it can become a lonely burden to generate our own spiritual life. But I believe we belong in life and in death to someone else, and that the almighty God wants a relationship with you and me. God, our heavenly father loves us. He wants to have that close connection with us to be our friend and guide, and as we listen to him, we can allow ourselves to be shaped by who the Bible says we are.

Our God wants to share life with us, to guide us into all truth after all. Jesus said I am the way, The truth and the life. Yes, God is a good God. He wants you to have a joyful and fulfilling life.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, I think about that old saying to thine own self be true. But, Lord, how can I be true to myself when I don’t know who I am? You are the one who knows me inside and out. Thank you for that wonderful fact in Jesus name, Amen.