018. What’s So Wrong With the Phrase “Be True to Yourself”?

28 Mar, 2014

One of the most bogus phrases in movies and society is “Be true to yourself”.  The other most bogus phrase is “delicious salad”.

How many times have you seen some commercial, TV show or movie where the wise person tells the one who is searching for answers, “Be true to yourself”. While that sounds like it’s some deep answer, it’s really just permission to do whatever goofball nonsense you feel like doing.

I’m really an angry person inside.  Whenever I happen to hear smooth jazz anywhere I feel like punching people in the face. So I should be true to that?  That’s what I’m feeling, that’s who I am right?

Whenever anyone cuts me off in traffic, I want to drive up next to them and throw a half-eaten cheeseburger at them.  That’s who I am. Should I be true to that?

The problem with all of this can be summed up with a quote from the Pixar movie, The Incredibles, when Buddy (who eventually becomes the villain of the film) asks the hero, Mr. Incredible, “You always say be true to yourself, but you never say which part to be true to.”

We all have conflicting selves.  A part that wants to be good, a part that wants to be bad, another part that wants to be even worse, and yet another part that wants to listen to smooth jazz.

In fact, “be true to yourself” is the ultimate in idolatry.  Be your own god.  Make your own rules.  Do whatever you want – because the highest good you can achieve is self-realization. That’s why it’s so attractive.

You don’t love your wife anymore and now you love someone else.  Be true to yourself.  Give into your temptation, leave your wife and family.  And since you don’t want to pay child support, be true to yourself and don’t do that either.

It’s one of the most selfish philosophies of all time.

Where in that phrase does it say anything about doing what is right? Why don’t people replace the phrase with, “Do what’s right.” But then we get to the question of “What is right?  What is good?” Who defines what is right?  Only God can do that. 

If it’s left up to humans, everybody does what is right in their eyes, which pretty much ends up as a big fat mess and you have people fighting people in the name of their own sense of justice and righteousness. With regards to self, look at what Christ says…

MT 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Notice that Christ tells us to “deny” ourselves – not to ‘be true’ to ourselves. Not only does God define what is right, but he defines who we are as individuals by giving us callings.  By giving us specific purposes in the body of Christ.

If you really want to be true to yourself in a Biblical way, then you need to figure out what callings God has given you. Who you are is who God designed you to be.  Often times we define ourselves by not how we were designed but rather what we’d like to do.

If God designed you to be an eye, and you want to be an elbow – to be Biblically true to yourself, you need to be an eye.

So what do we do?

1. Deny yourself, follow Christ. We all have sinful feelings.  We need to focus on what is right. God is the one who defines what is good and what is right. And what is good and right is loving and obeying Him.

2. Figure out and accept your callings. What is your true design?  How does God want you to fit into his world?  

(Note: Here’s the devotionals on figuring out your callings: How to figure out your callingsHow to manage your callingsHow your callings affect others.) Live for God, figure out the callings He has for you and live them, deny yourself and above all else, stop listening to smooth jazz.

MT 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [25] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. [26] What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? I Cor 12: 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Take Time To Pray: Ask God to help you to be able to deny sinful feelings you have in exchange for living out His will and for wisdom to figure out his callings for your life. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness.