It’s amazing how much of what we would call psychology is actually addressed in the Bible. This is especially true when addressing personal identity and our connecting with others. Personality, temperament, and character are three concepts used to talk about different ways of thinking, feeling, and eventually acting. Similarities between personality, temperament, and character can often be confusing. Temperament and character are fundamental parts of our personality. Temperament is the natural part of your personality that comes from your genes. You are born with a temperament. Then, we have character, which is the unique qualities impressed by nature or habits on a person, distinguishing one person from another. Character comes from life experiences and choices. Lastly, our personality is the sum of our character, temperament, and environmental influences.
Think of it this way. Our personality is not merely a product of our genetic inheritance but also how we have allowed our environment to form our character, utilizing our temperament to reveal our unique personality. Our personality is the group of emotions, perceptions, and actions that constitute a person’s behavior patterns. Again, I know this sounds a lot like psychology, and it is, but it is also something addressed in the Scriptures. An understanding of personalities, ours and others, is an important matter for all believers to explore.
What does the Bible have to say about personalities? Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:10-11). There is a human spirit all people possess. More than any other component of what we are, it is what enables us to be in God’s image, and yet each person is a different personality. We are distinct from each other, so that each person’s spirit is also distinct. It is his own. Your spirit is yours, and my spirit is mine. It is my spirit that projects my personality, my mind, my attributes, my knowledge, my understanding, my wisdom, and my discernment.
An expression Scripture uses to describe our personality is our heart. The Bible teaches that the heart is the center of a person’s moral awareness, the conscience. We are obviously not talking about our physical heart here, but our personality. People think with their hearts (Phil 4:8). Planning is described as a function of the heart (Prov 16:9). People can hide the Word of God in their hearts (Psa 119:11). Perception is also described as a function of the heart (Matt 13:14). Then, lastly, the ability to weigh evidence and make a rational and reasonable decision is defined as an intellectual function of the heart (Mk 2:8).
The Bible describes the heart as the emotional center of our personality. God’s Word identifies several emotions springing from the heart, including love (Matt 22:37), confidence (Jn 14:1), joy (Jn 16:6), peace (Phil 4:7), unity and gladness (Acts 2:46), hate (Matt 15:19), fear (Jn 14:27), sorrow (Jn 16:16), frustration (Ps 131), division and strife (1 Cor 1:10; 3:3). As we see, our heart, our personality, is our personhood.
People also express their will as an expression of their heart. Our personality, spirit, heart is connected with our faith. People find salvation in Christ when they respond to the Gospel with their hearts. Paul writes to the church in Rome, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). Ongoing spiritual growth in our life continues out of our heart’s response to the things of God. As Paul writes, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). We relate to one another as Christians out of a willingness to do God’s will from our hearts. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:5-6).
It is important to note that no matter how warped our personalities, we are still made in the image of God. Also, no matter how lovely our personalities, we’re still soiled and marred by sin. We all need God to redeem our personality. The good news is that God’s redemption, offered to each and every one of us, includes the redemption of our personalities. One of the descriptions of Christians in Scripture is sheep. We become more faithful sheep in God’s pasture when we allow the Good Shepherd to pastor our personalities and shape our disposition.
What does all of this mean for our lives? It means that maturing Christians do not unthinkingly embrace their personality or ashamedly reject their personality. We offer ourselves up to God and His renewing of our personalities. We invite and cooperate with the Holy Spirit and His workings. We follow the Spirit’s leading, His signposts, to greater Christlikeness, Christian love, and living life in the One who makes all things new.
If you want to live out of your redeemed personality, the path starts here, walk in union with Christ. Each day as you become more like Christ in character, love, purpose, and priorities, press on. Let the redeemed you shine through. As you go about living, do so with all the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of your personality, being your in-Christ self, redeemed through and through. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!