Hi everyone. Rob here.
You may have noticed that our personalities carry strengths and weaknesses. For example I am an introvert who likes to engage in deep thinking and reflection. This is great for blogging, preaching and sharing. However, every now and again, it turns into introspection or navel-gazing. This is where thinking serves yourself only. It ends up going around in circles and being fruitless. A friend of my sons is spontaneous. This makes him great fun but can also lead to sudden anger. Fun-loving extroverts can hide their issues behind the party. Servers can neglect their own hearts even as they seek to help others. And on it goes. Our personalities are gifts from God and he asks us to commit them to him for his purposes.
It is as we grow in connection with God that our personalities really emerge. So much of what we think is our personality is actually learned behavior that we used to cope with uncomfortable situations. In other words, much of what we thought was our personality was a pose. I love humour and a quick wit, especially a dry wit. But when I was younger it was just sarcasm and cynicism, borne out of trying to look detached and cool. It wasn’t me. I also value an even temperament and a healthy perspective, but when I was younger it showed as apathy and laziness. The problem lies when we internalize these poses. Our mind makes an agreement with these postures that aren’t us. They don’t belong. Like a car using the wrong oil we will sputter along for a while until it all blows up on us.
Our true personalities, like anything in the spiritual life, emerge when we fully surrender ourselves to God and find our identity as his sons and daughters. As we allow the cross of Christ to work within us we become able to put to death all that doesn’t belong. As we live in Christ the things that don’t belong become easier to spot. They lead us away from the fruits of the Spirit. They lead us away from relationship and community. They lead us away from vulnerability and trust. Sarcasm and cynicism became intolerable to me as I saw that all people are made in God’s image and worthy of honour. It hardened my heart so I let it go.
Our true personalities are beautiful. They shine and point to the God who loves us. They reflect his character and creativity. That’s why he puts them all together and calls it his temple. He dwells among us through our personalities as we give them over to him. Do you remember how Jesus described his personality in Matthew 11:29?
…for I am gentle and humble in heart…
I wonder how he would describe you? Describe me? I hope that it would involve my heart being gentle and humble also. I hope that it would reflect God’s heart for us. I hope that it changes over time as I learn to love well in his name. I hope that it becomes completely free of poses and self-defensive postures. I pray the same for you. May our personalities point to the redemption that has been won for us and the freedom that calls to us from eternity.
Grace and peace.