Please tell me I’m not alone in hearing this saying attributed to being in scripture, “To thine own self be true.” Wow. Is it a matter of conscience, a matter of identity, or a matter of morals? I’ve heard leaders say it, I’ve heard teachers at Christian colleges say it.
First, I’d like to point out that it’s actually a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is not in the Bible, nor is it a part of Christian theology. Like my previous post, it’s really opposite what Scripture teaches.
Basic Christian theology establishes the Word of God as our basis for thoughts and understanding. That all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, etc. This is found in 2nd Timothy 3:16.
Understanding that helps to understand why this series I’m working on is important. It’s an effort to help weed out things that ARE NOT part of our scripture. We can get into debates about canonization via email if you want. But you have to, as a Christian, believe that God gave us His Word, as a tool to use for our success in winning the lost and teaching believers; For His glory. That being said, I do believe the word of God, in its canonized state is what God has for us.
Alright, stepping off the soap box, and getting back on track.
“To thine own self be true,” is contrary to Christian belief. As previously stated, touching on conscience, identity and morals, we’ll investigate further. I believe that while conscience and morals can be two separate items, for the purpose of this blog, I think both play well together as a singular point.
First, the idea of conscience; what is it and, where does conscience come from? If you ever happen to delve into a little philosophy, you may have come across the idea of morality, or moral law. (this part combines both conscience and morals). That is, where does it come from, and is it something that is written on our hearts?
I’d safely assert that a conscience is a form of our moral code indeed written on our hearts. The part where some may disagree with me, is where that comes from, I believe it is Yahweh God, who placed it there. We don’t need anyone to tell us rape is bad, or incest is bad, or murder is bad. It’s in us to know that’s wrong.
So, “To thine own self be true,” isn’t a case of morality. Because we know, deeply, the difference between right and wrong, and as a Christian, we know because scripture affirms that. It’s our moral code, compass, and light. So being true, would look like keeping the law of Scripture, not making right and wrong relative in terms to what one’s “own self,” would decide.
What about Identity? Glad you asked.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
Our identity, is Jesus. I propose that if, we are being true “To thine own self,” we aren’t finding our identity in Christ. And that’s a problem.
It’s a daily struggle, but worth the fight when your ultimate satisfaction is found in knowing Jesus is your guide, and identity. It’s also going to take a lot of pressure off you, knowing that Jesus is your measuring stick, meaning that He fulfills the requirements for you to know God, as an ambassador for you.