Sermon Transcript — August 30, 2003
Temper Your Temperament
by Mr. David Treybig
Have you ever heard friends reminiscing about a past activity that they all did together? Imagine
four guys if you will, talking about a Feast of Tabernacles that they attended where all four of
them were roommates. If it's been fairly soon after the Feast, one of the guys might be able to
give you a pretty good day by day, blow by blow account of just about everything that they did.
Another one might focus on all of the activities that they were involved in. He might talk about
serving as an usher, maybe even helping with parking, how many widows they helped with
transportation, where they went out to dinner, all of the activities that were associated with the
Feast. Then there might be a third guy, he might think about all of the new people and friends
that they had the opportunity to get to know. He might remember every single one of their names
and be able to tell you something about the individuals. Then there's the fourth guy, and maybe
all he could just talk about was the overall impact of the Feast; the meaning of the Feast and how
he was just blown away to understand and comprehend God's plan and what was taking place
and that seems to be all that he could focus on. Well, if you overheard these four guys talking
and all reminiscing with their slightly different explanations, what would you conclude?
Some might reason, there are too many differences among these four and it's obvious the Feast
didn't really exist. Others might say, well you know there's three of these guys, they're kind of on
the same page so maybe there really was a Feast of Tabernacles, but this fourth guy, he's just a
little bit spacey. Maybe he had a little too much to drink or whatever. Then there might be others
that would conclude: I believe these four really did go to a Feast of Tabernacles, I think they're
just relating things from a slightly different prospective; things that particularly struck each one
I don't know whether you stopped to thing about it or not, but the scenario that I just painted for
you is the way some people interpet and understand the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John. There are some people that think because there are differences between all four of those;
that the four didn't really know what they're talking about and we can't trust anything that they
say. That's a very liberal school of interpretation. Then there's another group that would say three
of the guys are sort of on the same page but the fourth guy we're not so sure about.
Anyone that starts studying the gospels has heard of the synoptic issue. That word synoptic
includes the little word optic; like optical in eyeglasses and how one sees things and so scholars
say: " Matthew, Mark and Luke, they see things similarly but John, he's just off in his own
world." Then there are others and by the way, we are in this others category ourselves, that we
say all four of them are valuable and all four of them contribute to the understanding that we
have about the life of Christ and His reason for coming and what it all entails. So, all of this
works together and we're the richer for having all four of them.
Today I want to share some information with you that show the unique differences between each
of these gospel writers to illustrate a biblical principle. This principle is that God is a God of
variety, who has created human beings with many different personalities and temperaments; that
He loves each one of us and works with all of us. Just like God loves all people, we too need to
learn to respect and appreciate personality differences. This of course is easier said then done.
Let me take you to a scripture that I think illustrates part of the difficulty we Christians have in
doing this. In I Peter, chapter 1, verse 22, Peter writes this:
I Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere
love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.
Most of us can understand the concept that we're supposed to love one another, who will argue
with that? No one can, can we? But when we start taking it to another level of loving one another
fervently and doing it with a pure heart, we're going to another level of love.
Most of us have found ways to get along with most people. But sometimes it's a little bit difficult
to get along with one or two or three others and we in our hearts or our minds have some
reservations regarding that we're not quite as fervent about our love for them and we may even
have to question whether our heart is really pure as we try to get along with those particular
I'm reminded of a highway sign, a population sign that I saw a couple of times when I lived out
in west Texas. It was a time when I pastored a number of congregations; all the parts of west
Texas and I was into New Mexico and part of southern Oklahoma and those people out there had
a sense of humor, at least some towns did because I'd see signs; something that said: "Home of
Thirty-two Hundred Happy People and Two Old Grouches." I saw that sign a couple of times, I
remember seeing it in southern Oklahoma and I remember seeing it in west Texas and I thought,
I like these people, they've got things pretty well nailed down, pretty realistic (some people say
you have to be realistic, the wind blows out there, you've got to have your feet anchored to the
ground and be pretty grass roots to be able to handle that). I don't know whether you've stopped
to think about it or not but it seems as though that two old grouches, most of us probably know
those two old grouches (now I'm not talking about marriages here). But it seems like among any
group of people we have someone with whom it's a little bit harder for us to connect, it's a little
bit harder for us to understand where they're coming from. Those are the challenges that we
Christians face and it seems like we all know those grouches. They may even be in our own
So how is it that we can really reach this level that Peter is talking about to love everyone
fervently and with a pure heart. This is a challenge and today in my message that I'm going to
share with you, I hope I can give you a little bit of information that can help you more closely
reach this level of love that Peter is talking about, to be able to understand people a little bit
better and work with them.
For those of you taking notes, let me give you the title of my sermon, it is: "Temper Your
Temperament." A little play on words there, "Temper Your Temperament." As for inspiration
and source material for this sermon, I want to thank my wife, Teddy who has done a great deal of
research in this area and through her studies and my studies and a number of discussions between
us, we've discovered some information that we hope will be enlightening and encouraging for
each of you.
Let me begin with a little bit of technical information. I'm going to get into the gospel writers and
their accounts in just a moment but let me begin with a little bit of background information about
this word temperament. It is spelled temperament. There is an a in there that a lot of people don't
realize is there. The definition of this word temperament is one that many of us may think of in
the sense of temper as in; he or she has a temper. Well that is correct but that is only a partial
definition of the word temperament. Temperament is actually much broader than that and if you
will check several dictionaries, you'll find that the word temperament can actually include and
primarily mean a middle state or balance, a calmness of mind, character, composure, and a right
disposition or balance. As such, one's temperament is his or her normal disposition. It's the way
we normally look at things; our normal mood, our normal way of thinking and acting.
Recognizing that people have different dispositions or personalities, philosophers back since the
time of ancient Greece have developed various systems of classification.
Some terms such as choleric and phlegmatic have been used. Others have used names of animals
like otters, lion, and golden retriever. Others have used colors. The Myers Briggs-System, which
my wife and I are very interested in and have done more research with, actually uses letter
combinations to talk about temperaments with combinations such as sj, nf, sp and mt. I believe
that all of these systems of personality types have value, some more so than others and some
backed by more academic research than others. The interesting point to me is that of all of these,
almost every one of them come down to there being four basic types of personalities, our
temperaments, the different words that are used to describe them and interesting enough it seems
that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John represent these four different temperament types. Now if
you didn't understand some of the things that I was saying in terms of the terminology, the letters
or whatever, don't worry about that; you're not going to miss anything in this sermon because I'm
going to share some things with you about each of these gospel writers and you'll just be able to
understand it for the gospel writer himself.
So let's begin by examining them just a little bit more closely. You know, many books have been
written about the gospel writers; particularly you all heard I'm sure of the Harmony of the
Gospels, a book that will try to harmonize all of the accounts to see the big picture, everything
that takes place. Well today what I'm going to try to do is show you some of the unique
differences between each one of the gospels. Now this isn't meant to be disharmony, don't get me
wrong here but I'm going to try to show you the differences, and the distinctions between them
because that's how we're going to see some things about each of these particular authors.
One of the things about understanding temperaments is something that most of us realize when it
comes to speakers. We have a saying in the Church of God that a speaker is known by his
entrances and his exits. That's one way to get a thumb-nail sketch very quickly of someone and
one of the things I want to do with you today is to take you through some thumb-nail sketches,
some entrances and exits of each of the gospel writers and show you how each was motivated
with some unique and very different prospective of what struck them about Jesus Christ.
Now one of the things about Matthew, if we start studying Matthew and I'll take these just in
order as they come beginning with Matthew. Many scholars have recognized that Matthew is the
sensing, judging kind of person that is an individual that most likely would be the useful kind of
person; a caretaker, someone with a strong work ethic, someone who believed in and desired
hierarchy, would uphold traditions and family, clubs, work and society. He'd be a saver, a
stabilizer, a perpetuator, and the kind of person that had a high need to be responsible. He was
duty bound, dependable, reliable, patriotic, sequential, literal, practical, realistic; some of the
terms that are used to describe such an individual.
How do we come to some of these ideas and by the way, I'll just say these are hints or indicators
that we have and I'm going to share with you how it is and where these indicators of Matthews
temperament comes from. H.C. Thiessen in his introduction to the New Testament, pages 132 &
133, wrote this about Matthew. He said: "Matthew was not conspicuous among the apostles but
we can see his fitness for the task of writing a gospel account. As a tax collector, probably under
Herod Antipas, he had the standing of a civil servant and would need to know, not only his
native Aramaic but also the Greek spoken in Galilee. His ready acceptance of Jesus invitation
shows that he must have cherished the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. We note that he quotes
or alludes to the Old Testament more frequently than any other of the gospel writers. He quotes
from both the Hebrew and Septuagint, he makes use of Hebrew parallelism, his thought and
outlook are Hebrewism, he speaks much of the Kingdom of Heaven. We feel impressed that this
gospel was written by a patriotic Christian Jew. As a tax collector, we get a certain feel that he
probably was someone that would be very dependable, could be literal, he would take care of the
details and what he said would be absolutely true." Now that's exactly the way it seems that
Matthew turns out to be. Matthew's account happens to be the longest of the gospels. It is also
chronologically in structure containing many details in a logical sequence and shares the similar
viewpoint as I said with Mark and Luke. The main theme of Matthew's gospel is to show that
Jesus was the King prophesied to come to Israel. Those events in His ministry are singled out
and emphasized that set forth His claims as the Messiah set to fulfill all the prophecies
concerning Him and compared with Mark and Luke, Matthew has more than thirty sections
which are peculiar to his gospel, all of which pertain to the King and His Kingdom. So this
theme of the King government structure hierarchy, things falling in place is something that is
special about Matthew's writing. Within the text, the Companion Bible tells us that the term
Kingdom of Heaven is used thirty-three times and the Kingdom of God, four times. There are
sixty Old Testament references to Messianic prophecies and the words righteous and
righteousness occur more often in Matthew than the other three gospels combined. It's the only
gospel which the word church (ecclesia) appears and it contains fifteen parables and twenty
miracles and of these, ten parables and three miracles are found only in his account and it's the
only gospel to tell of Judas's repentance, (that's found in Matthew 27), of the Jews request that
Christ's blood be upon them and upon their children, of the sealing of the stone, the setting of the
guard, the fabrication of the story that the disciples came and stole the body while the guards
slept and of the rising of many of the saints after Christ's resurrection. Matthew was the one that
gives us these details and in one sense the longest most complete story. So a little hint here; if
you're looking for something in the gospel accounts and you don't know where to go, the law of
probability says go to Matthew, the longest and most complete.
Now, let's look a little bit at the introduction, the way Matthew begins so we can see if we can
sense just a little bit here and understand. Is this truly what Matthew was like? When Matthew
began writing in his particular gospel, we see here:
Matthew 1: 1 & 2 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of
Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
Abraham the Father of the Faithful; Matthew looks back to Abraham starting with these
genealogies, does it incept fourteen generations each, three of those coming down to Jesus
Christ, the legal genealogy being of Joseph and Mary. According to tradition, according to
structure, the way that it would be, that's the way Matthew begins.
One of the interesting things about righteousness and doing what is right which is something that
Matthew focuses on, we see right away at the beginning that it has to do with the relationship
between Joseph and Mary in verses 18 through 25 regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. Let's notice
this; as Matthew is concerned about people doing and practicing righteousness.
Matthew 1: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was
betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child.
Verse 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man (Matthew's the only one that talks about
this being a just man, righteousness and justice, an honorable person) and not wanting to make
her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
He goes on to show how both Joseph and Mary were just righteous individuals trying to do
things God's way and how they both practiced righteousness and as through God's intervention
through an angel, who said it's o.k. for you to take your wife. We notice something else, that
little tidbit of information that we probably don't pay much attention to just reading through the
story, verse 25 but Matthew records it for us saying of Joseph:
Verse 25 He did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son and called His name,
Some people say: "Well look, if I'm going to get married, I should have my conjugal rights, you
know, I should be able to do what I want to do."
Righteousness, honorable people, here is an account of Matthew recording of Joseph and Mary
being those kind of people.
As we come to the end of Matthew's account in chapter 28 we find that Matthew focuses on the
commission of the church and who has the authority as Jesus Christ is the King of the Kingdom
as He's quoted, so many of the prophecies showing that Jesus was the Messiah and as we come
to the end of Matthew, Matthew is still talking about those things.
Matthew 28: 18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying: "All authority has been given to
Me in heaven and on earth.
Verse 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 20 Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you
always, even to the end of the age." Amen
Authority was right and good in Matthew's temperament. He didn't chafe at authority, he realized
authority was right and good and especially with Jesus Christ as the King and so he talked about
there being authority. We see this in Matthew's account and Matthew's temperament.
Now when we come to Mark, we come to a little bit different personality. In the Myers-Briggs
terminology and David Kersey, this would be an sp of sensing perceiving individual. For those
of you who are not familiar with that terminology, this is the kind of person that is very action
oriented. They are the ones, when they see that's there's a problem, they'll jump in and solve it.
They work best it seems, under crisis. They are very fraternal, their language is operational and
functional, literal, practical, they're in the here and now, they're getting things done. Now where
there is a problem or a difficulty, this type of personality jumps right in there and this
temperament handles it, takes care of it. They say: "Not a problem, we'll fix it."
Others may become flustered but this particular temperament is very action oriented and this is
the way that Mark seems to be. There are some connections that authors have made with Mark
and particularly in a relationship to Peter. A number of scholars think that the two of them were
very close to one another. It appears as some have said that Peter was well acquainted with
Mark's mother, went to her home when he was miraculously released from prison. We read about
that in Acts 12. Mark probably assisted Peter during the time he wasn't with Paul or Barnabas
and some scholars will say that Mark's gospel is a summation of Peter's memoirs.
H.C. Thiessen in his notes, in the introduction to the New Testament says, quote:
"Temperamentally, Mark seems to have been quite a lot like Peter, man of action, people that
would do things, step forward when something needed to be taken care of."
It's also rather interesting that Mark's account is the shortest of the four gospels. Mark was
written, apparently in Greek. That was a style that was neither technical or slangy, somewhat
simple, the narrative is commonly terse and concise. That comes from the International Standard
Bible Encyclopedia. So Mark was a doer and his focus seems to be that Jesus was the servant of
God, that Jesus did things. Mark is a gospel of deeds. Jesus is a strenuous worker, hastening from
one to another. The word immediately is used 26 times in Mark's account. Matthew by contrast
uses the word 5 times, Luke once, John twice. So everything with Mark is: then we immediately
did this and then we immediately did that and after that we were doing this. So Mark focused on
the action. It was good action, good things that were being done. It's also interesting that Mark
begins his gospel, not with the genealogy, stating the authenticity of Jesus lineage nor with
mention of the virgin birth or the childhood years but with Christ's ministry. That is His purpose
with being on earth so Mark just jumps right into the action, what needs to be done.
Let me show you how this starts. Let's go to Mark chapter 1 for a moment. As I was saying,
there's no genealogy here, in fact if we start looking through this, if your bible is somewhat like
mine, you'll see with the subheads that there is a lot of action.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Verse 2: As it is written in the Prophets: "Behold, I send My messenger
Here's John the Baptist, we get John the Baptist taken care of in about six verses. Then in:
Verse 7: There is one that comes after Me.
Now Jesus Christ is being introduced. We see the baptism of Christ and now by verse 9, we're
ready for John to baptize Jesus Christ. In verses 12 and 13 we see the temptation of Jesus in two
verses, no need to take a whole chapter for that and for Mark, this man of action and verse 14,
Jesus begins His Galilean ministry. If your bible is like mine, just look at the subheads there.
Then we come to verse 16 and we can talk about choosing fishermen to be disciples. Before
verse 21, we read about Jesus casting out unclean spirits. Beginning in verse 29, Peter's
mother-in-law healed, verse 32 many are healed after the Sabbath sunset, verse 35 preaching in
Galilee, verse 40 Jesus cleanses a leper. All this is done in one chapter. Action galore, you know,
let the film roll, we have accomplished things and they're all good things. I'm not making fun of
Mark; I'm just saying Mark was a doer.
Now isn't it also interesting that Mark was the one that didn't impress Paul at one point and Paul
thought he was a slacker. We don't know exactly why it was that Paul came to this conclusion,
maybe it was early on with Mark, maybe Mark got bored with the day-to-day routine of what
was happening and maybe he felt like he needed more to do. Something else may have distracted
him. Later on that changed but Mark definitely was a doer, in fact if we come down to the end of
Mark, chapter 16 in verses 14 through 20, we see the way that Mark ends and remember his
focus has to do with Jesus being the servant of God and all the ways that Jesus served and all the
deeds that were done, we still see the action taking place here at the end.
Mark 16:14 Afterward Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked
their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after
He had risen.
Verse 15: And He said to them: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Verse 16: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
Verse 17: And these signs will follow those who believe:
Here is some action
In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
Verse 18: they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt
them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Verse 19: So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat
down at the right hand of God.
Verse 20: And they (disciples) went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them
and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
Let the action continue and it did, that's what Mark saw and doing, being a doer of the law is
important. Mark certainly epitomized that.
Well after Mark, we come to Luke. Now Luke begins to change focus slightly. Matthew and
Mark have been very focused in the present and the deeds that had to be done at the moment, in
the here and now, very well grounded, feet on the ground and Luke begins to have a bigger
vision. Luke begins to think somewhat more what we would say intuitively. He was also the kind
of person that was very people oriented. In Myers-Briggs, would say that he was inept, and
intuitive feeling type of personality. What this means, he was someone that was hypersensitive to
conflict, very supportive and sympathetic, valued cooperation among people, a great encourager.
Many of these types of temperaments are poetic and fluent writers and very people centered.
They seek meaningful relationships, are compassionate, tender, merciful, visionary and
imaginative. Now some of that we might start gathering from the little simple statement in
Colossians 4, verse 14 that tells us that Luke was the beloved physician. What I suppose is that
Luke had great bedside manners. If you were sick, or weren't feeling well, Luke could be very
sympathetic, filled with empathy, caring for you, about a person, would remember your name,
would know you individually. It's hard not to like someone like this. Luke is rather interesting, as
the scholars tell us, is probably the most polished of all the writers of the New Testament. His
Greek particularly in chapter 1, verses 1 through 4 is considered to be the most classical Greek
that we have among all of the gospel writers. Maybe some of that had to do with his training,
from his medical background.
Luke narrates the story of Jesus as a piece of history. The New Bible Commentary says that of
all the writers of the gospel, he comes the nearest to writing a biography of Jesus, although he's
recorded the facts that are vital for faith rather than the general details of appearance, character,
physiological development and so on. Like John he has given us an artist portrait of Jesus, rather
than a photograph, he's given us a true portrait. As I said, that comes from The New Bible
Luke's main theme is to show that Jesus was in God's sight the ideal man. He's presented as the
friend of publicans, sinners and other outcasts of society, a champion of women and children, the
ultimate physician manifesting great compassion, tenderness and sympathy. Luke is the only
gospel writer that tells us about the events leading up to, including the birth of Jesus. He presents
this information with great insight into the lives of Elizabeth and Mary as they realized the
significant of the children they bore and Luke records the historical roots of Jesus extending back
to the first man Adam, thus identifying Christ and all subsequent humanity as sons of God. Luke
includes 11 parables that are not represented in the other three gospel accounts. These stories
highlight the importance of relationships, repentance, forgiveness, Godly righteousness as
opposed to self-righteousness and apostasy.
There are 11 parables that are unique to Luke and every one of them seems to relate to human
beings. These include: the parable of the two debtors, the one of the Good Samaritan, the
unfortunate friend, the rich fool, the barren fig tree, the lost pieces of silver, the prodigal son, the
unjust steward, rich man and Lazarus, the unjust judge and the unfortunate widow, and the
Pharisee and the Publican.
Another theme that Luke develops is that the ideal man is dependant on God the Father in prayer.
Christ is represented as praying 15 times in the four gospels and 11 of those accounts are in
Luke. Luke includes a great deal of teaching on prayer, not found in the other gospels so if you
want to study the subject of prayer, Luke is the great gospel to turn to. It's also interesting that
Luke has a great deal to say about praising God and worshipping God, begins in the temple,
worshiping, praising God and ends there as well.
Let's notice Luke, chapter 1, verses 1 through 4 and as I mentioned are some of the most
classical words in Greek, but as we come down to verses 8 and 9, we read:
Luke 1:8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division,
Verse 9: according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense (speaking of John
the Baptist's father) when he went into the temple of the Lord.
So worshiping God was part of the beginning of Luke.
We come to Luke, chapter 24, verses 52 and 53, we again see a picture of worshiping God. This
ideal man is one that is connected to the Father in prayer as I mentioned, one of the themes of
Luke and Luke mentions so many stories about people and individuals.
Luke 24: 52 And they worshiped Him, (speaking of the disciples) and returned to Jerusalem
with great joy,
Verse 53: and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
So Luke has a little different prospective.
As we move to John, everyone realizes from John, chapter l, verse 1 that John was an intuitive in
the sense of a big picture thinker.
Some believe this is the beginning of the bible. John was thinking about the big plan of God.
Some of the descriptors for John as an New Testament gospel writer, intuitive thinker was that
he was a person who probably wanted to be very competent, enjoy complexity, was
intellectuality curious in value of deep thinking, a conceptualizer, a visionary, an inquiring
attitude who liked puns, abhorred redundancy or stating the obvious and was one of the great
thinkers in the sense of putting the whole picture together. Some say that he was the gifted son in
his family, the genius, that he had all of this insight and of course his gospel is the one that's
considered to be all on its own. The main theme of John's gospel is to show that Jesus is God and
he tells us that specifically himself.
He also uses many different names or titles for Jesus, words and titles such as the Word, the Only
Begotten, the Lamb of God, the Son of God, the True Bread, the Light, the Shepherd, the Door,
the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, the Vine. This type of temperament hates boring
repetition, likes the different connections. So many of these are introduced by the formula I Am,
showing that Jesus truly was God.
We're so familiar with John, chapter l, verse 1 and it says:
John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
It goes on to describe that Jesus came and dwelt among us.
Verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory
as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
That's where John begins to prove to us that Jesus truly was the Christ. In fact if we go just a
little bit further into his writing in chapter 20 and verse 30 and 31, John will tell us specifically
that this is why he wrote his gospel.
John 20: 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not
written in this book;
Verse 31: but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
that believing you may have life in His name,
You see one of the interesting things about John; this was apparently all that John really focused
on. While the other writers covered pretty much Jesus whole ministry, if not His life, the book of
John covers about 20 days, about 20 days of Christ's life. One third of it is devoted to Christ's
crucifixion. As far as John is concerned believing that Jesus is God is the most important thing
there is. The rest of the material is kind of irrelevant, extra, it's there; this is the big picture, this
is what really counts. In fact the big picture concept of John is there as we come to the end of the
book as well, chapter 21 in verse 25.
John 21: 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one
by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
That is a big picture thinker, a visionary, you never run out of books and things. This area needs
to be explored, this could be done more; John saw it that way. Yet John gave us what he felt was
the most important.
Now you see, all of these writers gave us important material, but they were all struck in slightly
Let's try to process a little bit of all this different information now in the sense of what does this
mean for each of us and the fact that we all have different temperaments, different perspectives,
different ways of looking at things too?
Let's go to I Corinthians, the 12th chapter, beginning in verse 12 with the New Jerusalem bible.
You will probably get the jest of this from whatever translation you have but this particular one
deals with some of these differences as to who we are as people, I believe in an interesting way.
I Corinthians 12:12 For as with the human body, which is a unity, although it has many parts,
all the parts of the body though many still making up one single body, so it is with Christ.
In other words within the church, we're just like a body, there are many different parts and I
would suggest to you that we have many different temperaments and personalities among us.
Verse 13: We were baptized into one body in a single Spirit; Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as
well as freemen and we were all given the same Spirit to drink.
Verse 14: And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many.
Verse 15: If the foot were to say: " I'm not a hand so I do not belong to the body," it does not
belong to the body any less for that?"
Verse 16: Or if the ear would say: "I'm not an eye and so I do not belong to the body," that
would not stop its belonging to the body.
Verse 17: If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? And if the whole
body were hearing, how would there be any smelling?
Verse 18: As it is, God has all the separate parts into the body as He chose.
Verse 19: If they were all the same parts, how could it be a body?
Now we understand that in a physical sense, don't we? Now when we have trouble on a
basketball court, catching a ball or something, saying: "I'm all thumbs." The problem is we need
our thumbs but we also need our other fingers too, don't we? We need all parts of the body to
operate properly and when one part doesn't operate properly, it can be a real pain, can't it? Some
of us discover that and if you haven't discovered it yet, you will as you get older, that's just the
way it is. With the body is comprised of all these parts and the body of Christ is comprised of all
different kinds of people with different temperaments and different ways of looking at things;
different ways of being impressed. Now it doesn't mean we can't share and understand other
perspectives. We should be able to do that, in fact we should grow in that as we mature as
One of the interesting things about this analogy to the body to me is that one of the important
concepts for us to understand in terms of temperament is we can't say: "Well, if God would just
throw out all those other temperaments and just leave temperaments like me, we'd get along real
well, we can have great peace." But that wouldn't be good, that wouldn't be healthy. God knows
what He's doing. God chooses all the parts that are going to be in His spiritual body. This goes
on to talk about how important it is that we respect that.
Verse 25: So that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally
concerned for all the others.
Verse 26: If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain and if one part is honored, all the parts
share its joy.
Verse 27: Now Christ's body is yourselves and each of you with a part to play in the whole.
It's interesting to me that we don't get to pick who is called to this way of life. God the Father
does that and I can't help but wonder just a little bit if God on His throne doesn't sit down and
look at us saying: "I wonder what they're going to do with this temperament or this personality
that is now part of the body? Are they going to learn to work together, are they going to respect
each other?" I believe that is part of the challenge God gives to us to help us mature and grow in
Christian character. God wants us to learn how to do that.
Some of the things my wife and I have learned through the years is that we've tried to learn about
temperaments and personalities of people because we've come to understand that people don't
generally try to rub others the wrong way. People don't generally do that on purpose, it just
comes naturally. We can do that without trying. But most of us don't purposely try to do this, it's
just because we're wired a little bit differently. Just like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all saw
the same event and were all struck by different aspects of Christ's ministry; all four of them were
important. But they probably at times irritated one another and they had to learn to respect one
another. I believe that they did.
My wife and I have also learned that when it comes to learning about these temperaments and
differences in personality, we need to start with ourselves. When we start with ourselves and
understand who we are it makes it easier to understand others. In that process we have to realize
that understanding differences and temperament and personality is never permission to sin. It's
never an excuse to break God's law. We can't say: "Well that's just not the way I am." Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John all kept the Sabbath, I believe they all kept God's Holy Days. They all tried
to live righteous lives. I don't believe any of them rejected the things that the others were saying.
But they did have in some cases some changes to make. They had to work through some
problems and some difficulties. You see there's a scripture that you're probably familiar with
back in Romans the 12th chapter. Let's turn there. I might just mention this passage in I
Corinthians 12 and also Romans 12 also talk about the concept of spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts
are not the same thing as temperaments or personalities. Gifts are related but they're slightly
different concepts and gifts seem to be talents that have been developed that people are able to
use. Some of these may be closely associated with temperaments but they're not necessarily one
and the same but very closely related.
In Romans chapter 12, beginning in verse 1 we read a scripture that we often read during the
Days of Unleavened Bread and Holy Days and at other times of the year because it reminds us
that we've been called, not to stay just who we are but to change and to become bold and into the
image of Christ.
Romans 12: 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Verse 2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We've been called to change from who we naturally are. I've talked about tempering our
temperaments; each one of us has been called to temper our natural, human temperament with
Godliness, to become more God-like.
Verse 3: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of
himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a
measure of faith.
Verse 4: For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same
Verse 5: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Here's the picture that God has in mind for us. This aspect of conforming to God is one that is so
When we stop and think about the gospel writers, two accounts come to my mind immediately
that show these individuals themselves likely changed in terms of their temperaments, that they
tempered them to become more God like.
We talk briefly about Mark. One time it appears that Mark abandoned the service of the ministry
and Paul didn't think he was really cut out to be a minister and who said: "This is not for him,"
for whatever the reason was at the time. Barnabas felt that he was and in time it seems Mark
changed whatever it was that Mark had done because later on even the apostle Paul said Mark
was profitable for the ministry. That showed that Mark could change and I believe that God has
confidence in each of us that we can change and should change and should temper our
temperaments with Godliness.
There's also the account of John that a latter writings of the bible, John is known as the apostle of
love, isn't he?
Do we recall that he was also called the son of thunder? So it seems that John was able to make
that transition; that he tempered his outlook the way of dealing with things.
I don't know for a fact but it appears to me that in I Corinthians, the 9th chapter, in verse 22 that
the apostle Paul may have understood some of these things about working with different types of
people. He certainly did in the bigger picture, whether he understood it as we might say today in
terms of temperament or not but he did realize that he needed to work with people in different
I Corinthians 9: 22 To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all
things to all men. That I might by all means save some.
Paul tried to reach people where they were, what made sense to them, how they were wired. I
think that is valid and important information for us today as well. Instead of putting down
individuals that may have a slightly different temperament, slightly different way of thinking, we
need to learn to understand how they think and appreciate them.
One of the great lessons my wife and I learned had to do from a lady that my wife worked with
when we were in Spokane, Washington.
My wife worked with some of the school boards in gifted education. This was a lady that was a
very prominent, wealthy woman but she dedicated her time to many boards and one day she and
Teddy were talking about a problem in that area that had to do with two different sides, two very
different opinions about how to solve a particular problem. This lady, with worldly wisdom
made a remark to Teddy and she said: "You can't hope to persuade someone who you offend."
That was another way of saying, we need to learn to understand different personalities and
temperaments and individuals as to who they are. That's a Godly principle as well, that is we can
come to respect one another, we can grow in the instruction that Peter gave us, that we can truly
come to fervently love one another with a pure heart.
In Ephesians, the second chapter, I want to close with what I believe is a very inspiring passage
and it just goes to show that even though all of us are different, even though we have different
ways of viewing things, even though we may be wired just a little bit differently, God has a
picture in mind for each of us that shows we are all going to be growing into one body and unit.
Ephesians 2: 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens
with the saints and members of the household of God.
Verse 20: having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief cornerstone,
Verse 21: in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the
Verse 22: in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Just like a building is put together, we have a building that we are able to enjoy right here and
what a beautiful building it is. But there are many different building materials that are here; we
got some glass right over there, we've got drywall, we've got wood, we've got trim, we've got
paint, we have carpet, we have lighting, it's electrical conduit in here. God is building His
building, the church and we're not all exactly alike but in God's sight, it is a beautiful picture, all
harmonizing and working together. I believe God is looking for us to do that; that is certainly our
future, it's what God wants us to do. So as Christians we need to come to understand our
temperaments and temper with the character of Christ so that we can mature into an appreciation
of others with different temperaments.
God, through His Holy Spirit is working through us to mature His body into a holy righteous
people. Let's make sure we do our part to facilitate this process.