Review: "Be True to Yourself" by Matt Fuller
“Be true to yourself!” How does that phrase make you feel? Empowered.? Angry? Confused?
Maybe it matters which generation you are from. For older generations, it may seem pretty wimpish and self-centred. For younger generations, it may feel like the bread and butter of life. We have been told since primary school that if we want to flourish, we must listen to that inner voice above all others. That our personal happiness rests on being who we truly are and not what anyone else wants us to be.
Matt Fuller, with humour, biblical faithfulness and pastoral care, delves deep into the issue. He shows that to “be true to yourself” is not just a phrase, but a worldview (a values system). He places it under the microscope and, in the book, firstly shows how it is lacking. If we follow our society’s understanding of being “true to yourself” then you will end up empty. However, secondly, he shows that if we understand what it really means to “be true to yourself”, on a biblical level, this will lead to us being satisfied.
After examining the secular understanding of being “true to yourself,” he lays out the biblical alternative. We are not meant to spend all our days endlessly searching for our identity, for this will be an exhausting and fruitless quest. Instead, we are meant to listen to the voice of the One who knows who we are, for He was the One who made us in His image. Therefore, to be true to ourselves, we must reflect the God in whose image we are made. Reflecting God is the only way we can achieve and fulfil our original purpose.
Once we start being true to ourselves, then life becomes less about “me” and more about “the other.” For God, whose image we bear, is relational. He is three persons in one. As we engage in relationships with our families, friends, and work colleagues, we are fulfilling our God-given purpose. But also, as we move from simply knowing “the other” to serve them, then we continue to reflect our God, who is ‘sacrificial-other-person-centred-love’.
Matt then goes on to argue that to be biblically true to ourselves, we must
recognise the influence of sin and grace. Sin has ruined us and made it humanly impossible for us to be a true image-bearer. But grace has been lavished upon us, through the death and resurrection of Christ, enabling us to bear faithfully the image of our maker once again. The reality of our sin and this incredible act of grace changes the direction of our gaze. Society says look within for self-worth. Sin and grace say DON’T, for within there lives only despair. Instead, look to the One who knows you and loves you. Look to Christ for your value, dignity and worth.
Once Matt has established what it biblically means to “be true to yourself”, he then explores several different areas. From identity through gender and sexuality, sex, relationships, the community, to being true to ourselves online, he applies this biblical principle of being an image-bearer to each area. In every chapter, Matt is pastorally very insightful and deeply challenging. He shows, again and again, the folly of the secular worldview and highlights the joy of being a true image-bearer.
I, personally, found this book wonderfully helpful because it reminded me of why I am here. I do not walk on this earth to please and satisfy my inner cravings and desires. I live, I breathe, I exist, for a far greater purpose than that. We are here to be image-bearers of God and to reflect His magnificent glory out to the world. We live, we breathe, we exist to act as little mirrors to the One who is so beautiful that living to point people to Him is not a chore, but a joy. It is not a cruel task, but the greatest of responsibilities. It is not a burden, but a pure delight.
For those who are same-sex attracted, I commend this book to you. It will help you analyse the secular “be true to yourself” worldview and see how empty and meaningless it really is. It will help you establish why you are here and what your purpose is. It will practically help you think through how to live out that purpose in your decision making, your relationships, your online presence and in many other ways. But above all, it will lift up your eyes to focus on the One who made you, loves you and who has good plans set before you.
"Be True to Yourself" by Matt Fuller
(The Good Book Company, 2020)
£8.94 paperback, £7.38 Kindle
This book review was originally published in the Autumn 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Autumn 2020 edition of Ascend