Sunday, February 17, 2013

Authentic Personality

Being a people person, I so enjoy observing people, and thinking about what makes them "tick". My current class, Personality Theories, has only added to my fascination. As I have read through the different theories, ranging from Freud to Allport (one of my favorites so far), I have been given the unique opportunity of looking to the Bible to find what God has to say about the subject of personality. Indeed, the Bible has much to say on this subject, but I think God is absolutely clear that as believers, we are to be like Christ.

In 2 Peter 1 we find...

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

I love that in verse three we are reminded that through the work of the Holy Spirit, He has given us everything we need to be conformed to the image of Christ. Matthew Henry beautifully states what occurs in the lives of those who are being conformed to Christ. He says,

“Those who receive the promises of the gospel partake of the divine nature. They are renewed in the spirit of their mind, after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; their hearts are set for God and his service; they have a divine temper and disposition of soul…” 

Through the promises of the Gospel, a believer's entire personality has been changed which allows his or her temperament and disposition to radiate Christ! Paul implores the believers to pursue character traits which will allow them to be the person God created them to be.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

I believe the ordering of these traits is hardly coincidental. As believers, it is vital for us to first have a foundation of faith.

Once we have this foundation, we must add to it goodness which is the Greek transliterated word areté, meaning virtue, moral excellence, or perfection.

Adding such a characteristic to our lives will then allow us to pursue knowledge....knowledge of God, discernment between good and evil, understanding God's will for us.

When we more fully understand God's will for us, we will be more able to exhibit self-control through all of the temptations which life brings.

As we become self-controlled we will be enabled to persevere, to continue on in our faith in Christ regardless of what comes our way.

Continuing on in godliness, our heart's response toward God will be one of reverence.

Knowing how God desires that we love one another, it makes sense that out of reverence for God, we would be filled with a brotherly love for our family in Christ. 

Colossians 3:14 says, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." 

The word love, found in both verses, is the Greek transliterated word agapé. Only God can truly work this benevolent, sacrificial love into a person's life. It is the love which Christ exemplifies when He died for us while we were still sinners and wanting nothing to do with Him (Romans 5:8).

Continuing on we read,

8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

As Christians, through God’s grace, we ought to strive after building the aforementioned character traits into our personality. As we learn His Will and live out His Will, our growing knowledge of Him will allow for our personalities to be conformed to Christ so that we can be effective and productive for His glory.

Thus, regardless of what has been done to you, where you have been, what you have done, what biological characteristics influence your behavior, how you have been trained, or what inborn traits influence your behavior, Christ is bigger than all of that and His divine power has given you everything you need to have a personality which is conformed to the image of Christ.

"The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become- because He made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be... It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own." 

-C.S. Lewis

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