What is the difference between the personality (i.e., disposition, temperament, natural drives, unique innate pleasures, instinctive responses to relationships or conflict, etc…) that God gives every person at birth and the fruit of the Spirit which begins to express
itself in the life of a believer only after conversion?
Before we try to answer that question, let us first acknowledge that God is the author of both personality and the fruit of the Spirit. One is not carnal and the other sacred. One is not random and the other intentional.
We begin to understand the difference when we see God’s passion for unity in the midst of diversity. In Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 we see very diverse people gathered for a completely unified purpose—praising God.
There is no universal Christian personality. There is a universal Christian character portrait (the fruit of the Spirit). God does not have a preference for extroverts over introverts; nether does God like thinking people more than feeling people. God longs to see His character (i.e., image) reflected in the full breadth of human personality.
This is one of the implications of Genesis 2:15 we often miss. It was not good for man to be alone, because the purpose of man was to reflect the image of God in a unique way and no individual could accomplish this. Marriage was as much to humble the individual
human as it was to solve loneliness. We can only image God (our purpose and the only ultimately satisfying pursuit) in community.
With that said, we still ask, “What’s the difference?” I believe we can now say that personalities are imbalanced, but the fruit of the Spirit is necessarily balanced. Personalities are a portrait of the qualities we have in greater or lesser amounts. It is their uniqueness that makes them interesting, beautiful, and hard to understand.
The fruit (singular) of the Spirit is balanced. The fruit of the Spirit is not a virtue on a grocery list; as if we could pick up some and leave others. It is grammatically and inherently contradictory to say that we are stronger in some fruit of the Spirit than others. When we say this we are evaluating personality not the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is the mark of how much God’s character has taken root and found expression in our personality. For this reason we can accurately say our weakest point in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is the indicator of the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives.
If we take this as a demoralizing guilt bomb, we have missed the point completely. It means we were trying to get moral bonus credits for our personality (which was also a gift from God and over which we got no vote).
The fruit of the Spirit does not call us to do more good stuff (works) in or to be a different kind (personality) of person, but to surrender more (gospel response) of who we are (personality) to God. It is as we are won by God’s character (love, joy, peace, etc…) that we imitate it ourselves and rejoice when we see glimpses of it in other believers. As this takes root, guilt gives way to worship, and effort is motivated by something that makes it feel increasingly less like work.
If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Personality” post which address other facets of this subject.