To Thine Own Self Be True

Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You know, as a great fan of Shakespeare it amuses me to see how many phrases are used in modern culture that originated in one of his plays.  “In my mind’s eye” and “method to his madness” (“he be mad, but there be method in it”) are just two of my favorite examples.  So it is kind of refreshing to see that maybe even Shakespeare wasn’t above drawing inspiration from an older work of art – in this case the Bible itself.

This above all: to thine own self be true – Polonius in Hamlet

Ok, so it isn’t a direct quote and it might just be a coincidence, but it seems like the same message to me.  “Guard your heart” is the Lord’s reminder to stay on the path of righteousness and wisdom.  “To thine own self be true” seems to be Shakespeare’s reminder to not be drawn into conformity and whatever the world is doing around you.

It is so easy, as a believer in Christ, to see the world operate around you and feel pressure to conform to it to fit in.  But when we receive Christ, our nature is no longer that of the world’s.  We are changed and we are set apart for Him.  So to act like the rest of the world is to deny our new identity.  I’m not saying we should flaunt our differences, just don’t be afraid to be different.

So take it from Shakespeare (who might have taken it from Proverbs):  To thine own self be true, and guard your regenerated heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

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