Tobit // Day 3 - To Thine Own Self Be True

Tobit 4, James 2: 14-26

And so the journey is about to begin for Tobias. One interesting thing about my favorite movies is that things start out badly for the heroes, but when they begin the journey to try and change the bad situation, there’s that first glimmer of hope that tells everyone that things are gonna start to get better. 

But before the hero begins the journey, the mentor gives him advice for the road ahead. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is told to follow the yellow brick road. In Star Wars, Luke learns how to use the Force. For Tobias, his father gives him advice that isn’t just about the journey but about life as a whole.

It’s very similar to this monologue from Hamlet where Polonius advises Laertes “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” However, there’s a big difference between Laertes’s monologue and the advice that Tobit gives to Tobias. Laertes’s actions contradict the advice that he gives whereas Tobit can back up the advice that he gives to his son because he lived his life always doing the right thing.

It’s one thing to say good things, but it’s another to actually follow through on what you say. I remember when I thought I would go into a retreat with humility only to learn what humility actually meant. It’s one thing to have the idea of a good deed or a virtue, but when you actually live out a virtue, it’s not an instant feel-good experience. It’s a lesson hard learned. 

Like today’s passage from the letter of James says “Faith without works is dead.” Take note of how all of Tobit’s advice consists of actions instead of empty platitudes. One issue I had back when I was addicted to self-help books is that while they were motivating, they never said exactly how one can accomplish the things they promised. At some point, you need to take action and see how the things you learn apply to real life.

I have a friend who works as a nurse. She did excellently in school, but found herself struggling to adjust to actually working. Being a nurse has a lot of demands and my friend had particular problems with multitasking. In an effort to improve her work ethic, my friend put efforts into improving her multitasking skills by focusing on one task that she can improve on first and then try and improve her skills at another task until she was able to multitask. Her dedication caught the attention of her supervisors and coworkers and she felt very proud that she found a way to improve herself in her career.

By taking action, my friend was able to improve herself and live out the things that she learned in her studies as well as in her faith. The best way that we can be true to ourselves is to act as our most authentic selves. That means being open to change and taking actions that will help improve ourselves.

STUDY QUESTIONS: What are some ways you feel that you can put your faith into action? What are some skills or virtues that you think God can help you improve on?