Personality assessments are everywhere. Between the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, CliftonStrengths, and the 52 others out there, I can easily identify as a 8w7 and ENTJ who’s strong in intellection, command, and competition. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul lays out an assessment of sorts to help us identify areas where we excel at doing religious things. Here’s how I would describe the five types he highlights:
The Keynote Speaker
You’ve been gifted with the pinnacle of spiritual gifts (at least according to the Corinthians)—speaking in the tongues of men and angels.
The Powerful Prophet
You have the ability to perceive exactly what the Spirit wants to say in a situation. Often God uses you to speak directly to people who say, “How did you know I needed to hear that?”
The Excellent Explainer
You can understand all mysteries and knowledge—Calvinism, the Trinity, when Jesus is coming back, why there aren’t dinosaurs in the Bible. You name it, you can explain it.
The Mountain Mover
You have the gift of faith, perceiving what God wants to do and asking him for it. You don’t just have a little bit; you have it all.
The Sacrificial Servant
You’re radically generous. While others are writing checks for the tithe plate, you’re setting yourself on fire as a sacrifice. You’d give away everything—even your life—for the gospel.
Do you see yourself somewhere in that list? Do you have one of these remarkable gifts?
If so, what’s your motivation for using that gift?
You see, Paul doesn’t just call out certain gifts or types to make us feel nice or help us understand ourselves better. He actually identifies them so he can ask us about our motivation.
His constant refrain is “ … but have not love … nothing.” Even if all of those things are true of us, if we miss the crux of the Christian life—love—we miss the point of everything. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37–40:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (ESV)
Love God, love others. When we obey these two commands, everything else follows. The opposite is also true: when we fail to obey these two commands, we are nothing—even if we break our backs keeping every other aspect of the Law.
You say, “Well, why would anybody do those things if it wasn’t driven by love for God?” Great question. Here’s why I do it sometimes:
The love of praise. As humans, we want to know that others affirm and admire us. It’s easy enough to see how people do this at work or in sports. But we’re prone to use religion to earn others’ favor, too.
The love of what you can get from another. This seems like where the Corinthians were; God had become more useful to them than beautiful. They were fervently devoted to him, but only because they viewed him as a means to something else.
But in either case, we have to realize that if motivations are anything but love, they’re worthless. A noisy gong. A clanging cymbal. Junk. If we miss love, we miss the entire point of Christianity.