Believers seem to get that the Spirit wants to renew our hearts and minds. But I’m afraid we aren’t allowing the Spirit to do his work on our personalities.
We say we want to be changed from the inside out, but we cling so tightly to our personalities that we squeeze out the Spirit, keeping him to the periphery of our inner beings.
A Christian’s personality is meant to be changed by the Holy Spirit. Once a person is filled with the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit begins his work of renewing their personality. With the Spirit’s help, they are meant to become kind, gentle, faithful, peaceable, joyful, and so on (see Gal. 5:22-23).
Personality is a prized possession in our individualized society. We take tests to understand who we are. We read books to learn what makes us tick. And we’re told that God crafted each of us into unique creations.
That’s all well and true. But we don’t often separate out the good and bad parts of our personalities. If we’re not careful, we’ll conflate “introvert” with “impatient,” or “extrovert” with “abrasive,” and end up affirming both.
This is a mistake. While some parts of our personality describe who we are (introvert, extrovert, etc.), other parts of our personality describe how we are (impatient, abrasive, encouraging, helpful, etc.).
God wants to affirm who you are, but he wants to change how you are.
We must understand that God formed each of us with specific personalities, but my personality—just like our fallen world—is not as it ought to be. I am not patient, kind, peaceful, and encouraging like Jesus. I can say that’s “just how I am,” but to do so misses the point of the Spirit’s sanctifying work. And it undersells his power.
The Holy Spirit wants to make me like Jesus—unhurried, loving, tender—but he won’t do so without my participation. This is simply how he works.
I’m afraid too many of us have resigned ourselves to thinking that how we are is how we’ll always be. But I beg you to reconsider.
There are specific aspects of your personality (and mine) that are not the way they ought to be. There are parts of your personality that need to die, just as surely as there are parts that need to grow into full maturity.
But we will never walk in the fullness of Christ if we are not convinced that the Holy Spirit can and will change our personalities if we allow him to do so.