I commonly hear “Be true to yourself.” It’s most commonly misquoted as coming out of the Bible as “To thine own self be true.” It’s NOT in the Bible.
It comes from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sometimes we get confused about Shakespeare’s quotes because he used over 2,000 Bible verses in his writings.
This saying combines two concepts: self and truth. We so often hear people say “Take care of #1.” Self and our fascination with it has become the basic standard for ideas of truth.
In Mark 8:34 Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Today, we hear care for self; love self; protect self; promote self–and Jesus said, “Deny self.” Jesus is saying deny the desire to constantly promote yourself above all others. Life is not just about you.
In Rip Van Winkle, Rip wanders in the Catskill Mountains. He finds strange little people that offer him a drink and then he takes a nap. When he wakes up he thinks someone has played a trick on him because his beard is long, his rifle is rusty and his dog is nowhere to be found. He’s been asleep for 20 years and 2 days. When he went to sleep it was 1766, and America was a British colony and when he woke up it was a young nation.
Rip Van Winkle is a story about how sometimes we sleep through major changes in the world around us.
Over the past 20 years, Americans have embraced a new set of values.
The core message of this change is: Tolerance is more important than truth! Tolerance, by definition, is “respecting the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” Today, tolerance means that I have to accept the beliefs and practices of those with whom I disagree and I am not allowed to disagree with them. If someone’s opinion differs from yours, you must accept it as being as valid as truth; if you don’t, you are intolerant.
Research on the moral and spiritual beliefs of Americans found:
- 72% of Americans believe: “There is no such thing as absolute truth; two people could define truth in totally conflicting ways, but both could still be correct.”
- 71% of Americans believe: “There are no absolute standards that apply to everybody in all situations.”
Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind, wrote “To thine own self be true” has become the “life verse” for millions of people who are ignorant of what the Bible says or don’t think it’s true anyway.
The dangerous trends fall into 3 areas:
Civic Individualism vs. Civic Pluralism
Since the beginning of the country, Americans sacrificed the rights of the one (Civic Individualism), for the good of the many (Civic Pluralism). Today we see more “what’s true for you may not be true for me.” We used to ask, “What’s best for us?” Now, we’re asking “what’s best for ME?”
Recently, the Washington Redskins lost their trademarks due to 5 people who took offense to a name that was a celebration of someone who had done something great for the team.
When one person can obstruct the rights of the majority, we travel down a dangerous path. I learned a long time ago that you can’t please everyone. The person who tries fails miserably.
Tolerance and Moral Relativism tell us that if it seems right to ME, it must be right for ME.
Believers of moral relativism accept that ALL morality is relative to the individual.
That may sound right, but consider the following statements:
- If someone wants to set a baby on fire for fun, disagreement with this makes them intolerant.
- If someone wants to enslave other persons, disagreement with this makes them intolerant.
- If someone wants to kill an innocent person, disagreement with this makes them intolerant.
- If someone says it is good to help other people who are in distress, disagreement with this makes them intolerant.
If someone says it is good to be kind to people, disagreement with this makes them intolerant.
Moral Relativism vs. Moral Absolutes
There are no longer any moral absolutes. The question is no longer “Is this wrong or right?” Not it’s, “Is this wrong for ME or right for ME?” For example, if you think having an abortion is murder, then it is wrong for you. If I think it’s not bad or it’s right for me, then it’s okay and you can’t say anything about it.
Moral relativism teaches that something is right if it feels right to YOU. Even those that may disagree often say, “I’d never do anything like that, but if they want to, that’s their business.”
When someone insists there are no moral absolutes, ask them, “Are you absolutely certain about that?”
Religious Pluralism vs. Common Spiritual Identity
The world says, “All spiritual beliefs are equally true and equally valid.” If anyone claims their belief is superior or that someone else is teaching error, they are labeled as intolerant. Today, religion is like a buffet. You have the Christian way, the Jewish way, the Muslim way, the New Age way, or your own way. Some people say to pick and choose what you want out of each religion – it’s okay because they are all equal.
The biggest problem with this idea is that many religions are contradictory. Christianity, the world’s largest religion, says that Jesus Christ is God incarnate (God in human flesh). The world’s second largest religion, Islam, says that Jesus was merely a human being. However, if you disagree with any of what I said, you become “intolerant.”
Solving This Growing Crisis
“Tolerance is a virtue of a man without convictions.” – G. K. Chesterton
Psalm 11:3 says “When the FOUNDATIONS are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” What can we do? Stand for your convictions. Stand for what is right!
Speak the truth especially when it’s unpopular.
The founding fathers of our country believed there were some objective human truths that have always been true and will always be true. They wrote in our Declaration of Independence: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He didn’t say He was one of the ways, or one of the truths, and part of a life. As Christians, we risk the danger of being labeled as intolerant, narrow-minded and bigoted because we believe Jesus is the only way to heaven.
We must stand up for Jesus and our beliefs while we still have the ability.
In the Book of Acts, Peter and John were arrested and the Supreme Court of Israel ordered them not to speak publicly about Jesus. Peter and John obeyed God knowing they would suffer the consequences. Acts 4:19 says, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
The world says, “Keep your beliefs to yourself. It’s fine if you want to believe that, but don’t you tell me I’m wrong.” The future is bright for the people that wake up, realize things have changed and take action to redirect our society now.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!” (John 8:31-32)
To hear more on this topic, listen to our podcast on The Divine Prosperity Show.