|Vol. 2, No. 3||Page 11||March 2000|
Much to Do,
As a general rule, people tend to identify more easily with others similar to themselves.† This feeling of special understanding is not always limited to the people around us.† How many times have you read the Bible and felt you understood the ways of one character better than another?† Part of the reason for this may have to do with personality.
Though there are many ways to categorize personalities, one way divides people into four personality types.† These categories are the sanguine, the choleric, the melancholy and the phlegmatic.† Each kind of personality has general characteristics associated with it.† Though the characteristics may not be true for all people with that personality, they are generally true for many such individuals.† All four personality types have general strengths and weaknesses with which people must contend.† No one personality type is better than any other.† All four have good and bad qualities; all four are needed to make this world a better place.
For the next few moments, letís consider some Bible characters from one of the above personality types.† Since these individuals cannot complete a personality test to show us their personality type, we have to use what is written on the pages of the Bible.† By looking at what each wrote, did or said we can get a good idea of their respective personality types.† The goal of such a study is to see people like ourselves serving God to the best of their abilities and providing great examples for us to follow.
The choleric personality type is a very strong individual.† These people are your born leaders.† They are characterized by being hard workers, very productive and independent.† Along with this comes a tendency to be strong-willed.† A choleric can easily organize and run just about anything to which he sets his mind.† He is constantly busy making good decisions and acting on them.
Along with these good qualities, however, come some weaknesses.† The choleric tends to be very short-tempered.† These people are easily angered and often have explosions of temper.† The natural leadership skills of this personality many times go beyond what others would like.† Cholerics are often bossy and domineering.† They want things done their way immediately and are not shy about saying so.† Such people thrive on controversy and enjoy arguments.
The choleric individual is normally a good worker.† He makes a good leader and will likely finish what he starts.† This person is not easily intimidated, though he often intimidates others.† He thrives on control, wants things his way and needs lots of achievement and appreciation.† If you run into a workaholic or someone who loves to tell you what to do and when, you have just met the average choleric.
The Bible character that fits the characteristics of a choleric best is probably the apostle Paul.† James, Martha and Titus are other individuals that were probably choleric.† However, much more is known about Paul so many more choleric tendencies are evident.† For further study of James, see his epistle.† Marthaís choleric traits are found in Luke 10:40 and John 12:1-2.† The writings of Paul (2 Corinthians 2:13; 7:6, 13; 8:6) give us the little information we have about Titus.
Like James, Martha and Titus, Paul was a hard worker.† His industry and productivity are shown by his missionary journeys, letters to the Christians of the first century and verses like 1 Thessalonians 2:9.† ďFor ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.Ē
We also see evidence of a confident but intolerant man.† Paul was so sure he was doing the right thing in persecuting Christians that he said ďI have lived in all good conscience before God until this dayĒ (Acts 23:1).† In his confidence he was intolerant of Christianity.† However, once he was taught the truth, he used his confidence and intolerance for God.† In writing to the Corinthians, Paul condemned their lack of shame and acceptance of gross immorality and corruption in the church (1 Corinthians 5 and 6).† He did so with the confidence that he was doing Godís will.† (Whereas the apostles could teach no error, they were not flawless in their practice of Christianity, Galatians 2:11-14).† We, like Paul, should be confident in our faith and intolerant of perversions of that faith.† On matters of opinion though, we should have tolerance to keep the peace or to prevent others from stumbling (1 Corinthians 8).
Paul also demonstrates a measure of resourcefulness and leadership in his character.† When preaching to those around him, Paul used language they could understand.† In Acts 17 Paul preached to the people of Athens.† Before speaking, he noticed an altar to ďthe unknown god.Ē† He then used this part of their lives to teach Jesus.† Paulís leadership is seen in his many missionary journeys and writings.† He was able to show people how to live and teach, by both example and written word.
Many cholerics are not known for their tact, patience and self-sacrifices or affection for others.† However, we do see these characteristics in Paul.† In his letters, he first told his readers what was good about their lives or work, then gently but firmly instructed them how to change what was wrong.† His patience is evident in the many signs he performed, letters written and visits made to the churches.† Paulís whole life after his conversion was a sacrifice for the Lord.† Consider the following two passages.
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 3:4-8).
As a Jew, Paul had bragging rights.† He had achieved the highest level in the Jewish world that he could possibly attain.† He had the best education he could hope to acquire.† In the Jewish sphere, Paul could go no higher.† Yet, all that the world held in high esteem he counted as nothing.† He was also a Roman citizen, which gave him much advantage in a world ruled with the Roman fist.† Paulís citizenship by birth gave him freedom and rights other Jews and Gentiles could never attain.† Even with all this, Paul suffered more than we can really imagine, all for Christ.† When reading Paulís letters to individuals and congregations, his love and affection is evident from beginning to end.† What can cause such behavior unusual to this personality type?† The answer is Christ.† God is a great influence in the lives of those who let him in.† He took the weaknesses of Paul and turned them to work for good.†† He used Paulís strengths in leadership and persuasion to lead many people to the Gospel.
Do you see many of Paulís character traits in yourself?† If so, you are possibly a choleric also.† The cholerics of this world have their work cut out for them.† Their leadership skills and hard working nature are sorely needed in the church.† At the same time, these people (like Paul, Martha, James and Titus) need to let Christ help them control their temper, bridle their tongue and be affectionate, self-sacrificing individuals for the Lord.