3/23: To Thine Own Self Be True


In Act I, scene iii of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the character of Polonius prepares his son Laertes for travel abroad by telling him to memorize a list of important precepts (lines 55-81). He ends his speech with his most important thought which is, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

I suppose one could apply this phrase to life in many different ways, and I believe one of them would have the outcome of Job’s thought in Job 31:1a when he said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes.” Being true to himself meant knowing himself and what he was capable of if he allowed his eyes to wander, in his case, to “look upon a young woman.” You see, Job understood that a first glimpse allowed to linger can lead to a longer look that causes the brain to begin to ponder possibilities that the heart need not consider. So he made a covenant, a deal, with his eyes. In essence he was saying to his eyes, “If you look away from temptation, my feet will follow by turning my mind and body away too.”

The New Testament is replete with admonitions along these same lines:

  • Mark 8:34 – When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (NKJ)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:27 – But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (NKJ)
  • Romans 8:13 – For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (NIV)
  • 2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)
  • 1 Peter 2:11 – Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (NIV)
  • Romans 6:18-19 – You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (NIV)

And the most drastic of all:

  • Matthew 5:29 – If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (NKJ)

The point being made is clear. Know yourself well enough to steer yourself away from the temptations that will lure you into sin. The issues that trip you up are not necessarily the same issues to which I am weak. Are you true to yourself in the manner of what you allow your eyes to look upon?


©2009, 2013 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

And pick up a copy of Sharon’s new book, Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame, available at Christian bookstores, online, from New Hope Publishers, from the Life That Matters Ministries’ website, and now also available on Kindle!


~ by sanewriter on March 23, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: