Putting Up

Since personality profiles hadn't been invented yet, the Apostle Paul missed out on being analyzed and catalogued according to one of the multitude of tools that we have at our disposal today. My guess is that Paul was a choleric (if you follow one system of measurement) or a High D (if you follow a different system of measurement). According to Florence Littauer (Personality Plus, Revell, 1992) a choleric is: "...a dynamic person who dreams the impossible dream and aims to reach the unreachable star...Powerful Choleric is always aiming, reaching, teaching, succeeding...He is the easiest temperament to understand and get along with, as long as you live by his golden rule: 'Do it my way NOW!'" According to the Institute for Motivational Living, a High D personality is characterized this way: "dominant, determined, driven...good problem solver, risk taker, strong ego, self-starter, goal-oriented...good motivator, good at organizing events, values time, result-oriented." IML goes on to point out the down side of the personality type by saying that a High D also tends to be: "argumentative, does not like routine, oversteps authority at times, can be pushy."

Sounds like Paul, doesn't it?

While these characteristics might have made Paul a little difficult to get along with at times, they also made him the perfect man to deal with many of the thorny issues that cropped up in the churches of his era. Nowhere is that more obvious than in his letter to the Corinthian church. He attacked their sins without apology or prevarication. In my reading this morning from 1 Corinthians 5-8, he addressed sexual immorality in the church, disputes between believers, marriage issues, and the proper way to exercise the freedom found in Christ Jesus.

Such a strong personality could show itself in an attitude of superiority, arrogance and impatience. We know that Paul and Barnabas had a serious falling-out over John Mark (Acts 15:36-41). This young man didn't live up to Choleric Paul's standards and would have been a throwaway for the ministry if Paul had had his way and Barnabas had not been willing to split from his ministry partner in order to tutor Mark.

However, though Paul wasn't perfect and the rough side of his personality sometimes got the better of him, there was no greater crusader and defender of truth and righteousness than Paul. Nor was there anyone more willing to make any sacrifice for the advance of the Gospel and for the growth of the church. At the end of 1 Corinthians 8, after he has "encouraged" the Corinthians to not allow their freedom in Christ to be a stumbling block to anyone else, the apostle makes a personal commitment: "So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall" –1 Corinthians 8:11-13, NIV.

Limiting our personal freedom for the sake of not being a bad example to someone else doesn't come easily for most of us, especially for those of us who might share such a high powered personality with men like Paul. In chapter 9 Paul will go on to say that he has many rights that he has laid aside. Why? Here's Paul's response from 1 Corinthians 9:12b, NIV: "But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ."

If each action we take were measured by this question: "Will this hinder the gospel of Christ," we might discover that there are things, even perfectly legitimate things, that we need to set aside, "put up with," in order for Christ to be honoured in the lives of others. To make these personal sacrifices might have been hard for a Choleric/High D personality such as Paul, but the fact that he, tempered by the Holy Spirit, was able to do so, reminds us that we too can do what we need to do to make sure that our lives do not in any way "hinder the gospel of Christ."

Comments

  1. I love your personality portrayal of Paul and you are right on it! I used to not like him but as I studied and memorized Philippians, I grew to know and understand him a bit better.

    This would be an interesting Bible study, Lynda, with the rest of the disciple's personalities, or maybe that's where you are going with this? :) Hint, hint:)

    Luvs to you!

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  2. We all have personalities that can help or hinder the Gospel. We can ALL learn from this, no matter your personality type.

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