Personality and Character
We often use the words personality and character interchangeably to describe ourselves and others. However, these words are not synonymous; rather they indicate two distinct, yet related attributes of being. Webster defines personality as ‘the quality or state of being a person,’ and character as ‘the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person.’ According to Webster, personality is merely the state of existing!
Though we often use the word to indicate specific behavioral traits and preferences of a person, personality itself is inherent to being alive and conscious. What follows is that character is the manifestation of these traits. In other words, we have personality by virtue of being, but we understand ourselves and others as individual conscious persons through character. That means that character can influence personality, but personality is unchanging. God created man with an eternal soul. In fact, the Hebrew uses specific language to differentiate between the state of being alive, as plant life is, and the state of being alive with a soul in the word ‘nephesh (literally: soul, the inner being of man; living being with life in the blood).’ Our personality- the state of our being- is eternal, but our character is who we are presently and how we exhibit ourselves to others, and to God. This is why God pays close attention to our decisions, as they are indicative of our character. (Decisions have played pivotal roles in many of the essential events of Biblical history (Cain, Abraham, Jacob, Noah, etc.)). But the Bible also states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.’ This means that when one is born again by the Spirit of God, he or she is reformed in personality first, then character.
When we accept the forgiveness of Christ, our character, previously marred by sin, is freed from condemnation because God has reformed our entire personality! As we grow in Christ and continue to persevere in Him, our character will continue to grow and mature from glory to glory, a process made manifest by the fruit of the Spirit of God, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).