We all identify people based on various personality traits or characteristics, often not positive ones…
He’s the loud one.
She’s the bossy one.
You can expect a gossip fest if you spend any time with her.
He’s always such a downer.
We are quick to define people based on their personality traits, or frustrating habits. But are we equally quick to trust that God is big enough to get them past those things? Are we willing to trust that He can do the same for us?
If you are on Facebook at all you’ve likely been inundated with the same personality tests I have. And no, I may not be using my degree but my psych background means I eat them up. I can tell you exactly what my Myers Briggs personality is, and yes…it is actually relevant to this post! 🙂
I’m an INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perception)…joining Kurt Cobain, Tori Amos, Heath Ledger, John Lennon, Tim Burton, John Milton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Augustine, among others. Knowing my own mind, I find it very interesting to see the way this personality type has played out in the lives of those who likely were followers of Christ vs. those who were likely not. I can tell you with certainty, it is but by the grace of God I’m able to think as healthily as I do.
I’ve mentioned before that I spent many years convinced that I would take my issues to the grave. I truly couldn’t imagine things any differently. Part of the reason for my being short-sighted was the fact that others knew me a certain way. It would just be too hard to change and expect them to believe it was genuine. And what if I failed again? It was just too much for me to get past.
There have been times when the same could have been said for how I viewed others and their issues…they would do certain things and I would chalk it up to “that’s just the way they are, they’ll always be that way”.
But what if that’s yet another lie the enemy has crafted to keep us from walking in the freedom God intends for us? I think it absolutely is. So if it’s a lie…let’s take it captive and replace it with some truth!
Some personality traits are probably harmless, and can just be viewed as the individual quirks that make us each unique. But some of them are contrary to how we are called to live in Christ. THOSE are the ones God wants us to trust Him to transform by the renewing of our minds.
We are told that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:5-6 ESV)
In Ephesians we are told to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “our ‘old self’ was crucified, putting it off is a matter of exhortation. In some sense then, the old man has been crucified; in another sense, it may still claim attention”.
Oh yeah, my old self still claims attention sometimes…what about yours??
But it goes on to say, “our union with Christ in His death designed to deal with sin once for all, means we are free from the hold of sin. It’s mastery has been broken.”
I’m no longer slave to my sin. Neither are you, if you are in Christ. Neither is so-and-so who we’ve given up on.
So why is it so hard for us to allow ourselves and others to actually change?
There are likely several reasons for each of us, maybe different ones in different circumstances. Most probably have to do with pride or fear, neither of which is ever from God.
Here’s where I believe the rubber meets the road.
The grace we are called to extend to others should reflect the grace God extends to us. It meets us right where are, but it doesn’t expect that we stay there.
We’ve been admonished throughout the New Testament to edify the body of Christ. I love how Strong’s describes the use of the word in it’s original Greek: “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, happiness”
Are we promoting other’s growth? Or are we deciding their characteristics and traits are just “who they are and will always be”?
Are we surrounding ourselves with others who will promote our growth? Or are we isolating ourselves and believing the lie that “we are who we are and we’ll always be this way”?
God is bigger than our sin. He is bigger than our personality. He is bigger than our habits, or addictions, or compulsions, or annoyances. We can encourage one another through the process of sanctification, and with confidence say of others and ourselves…
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)