Do you desire justice or mercy? (Personalities)

This is interesting:

Chesterton once remarked that the children in whose company he saw Maeterlinck’s Blue Bird were dissatisfied “because it did not end with a Day of Judgment, and it was not revealed to the hero and the heroine that the Dog had been faithful and the Cat faithless.” “For children,” he says, “are innocent and love justice; while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories, (Children)

Early in his life, the apostle Paul was more religious and zealous for God than anyone else around him. Near the end of his life, he declared himself to be the chief of sinners. As a child, he would have enjoyed stories that ended with justice. In his old age, all he desired was mercy. I feel myself growing more toward this every day. God forbid that I should receive justice. I would be turned to a heap of ash.

There is another element here that I think is related. It has to do with psychological personality profiles. The Myers-Briggs system is popular, and, in my opinion, one of the more helpful ones. It has four axi:

  • Introversion/Extroversion
  • Sensing/Intuitive
  • Thinking/Feeling
  • Judging/Perceiving

For example. I happen to be INTJ. In regards to the test, these words all have special definitions, so if you aren’t familiar with the methodology, it’s not worth commenting on it.

Now one of the key characteristics of “Judging” people is that they desire closure. They tend to want to make plans and manage and control the world around them.

“Perceiving” individuals are more open-ended, flexible, and can tolerate a lack of closure. On the flip-side, they may be poor planners and can sometimes lack assertiveness.

Now, I’ve been taught that no personality is sinful, it’s what you do with it. But I will make this statement nonetheless:

The older and wiser (and by wiser I mean that in the best sense of the word) a person becomes, the more their personality will tend away from “J” and toward “P”. Their desire for closure and justice will ebb and the desire for mercy and the acceptance of circumstances and people as they are will increase.

Now, I know if you’re really into the personality profile scene, things are more nuanced than this. I’m not being fair. But I think I’ll hold by my hypothesis anyway.

I tested a strong “J” my freshman year of college, 10 years ago. I know that in my personal experience, if God has permitted me to grow in any wisdom (and becoming a husband and father might have something to do with this), it has correlated clearly with a move away from closure and justice and accepting more open-ended circumstance and a greater variety of people.

The other primary reinforcement to this idea is reading the accounts of the spiritual journeys of others. Just like Tolkien says here, people often move from desiring justice to desiring mercy – not just for themselves, but for others too. This naturally correlates to a change in personality.

Is “P” more mature than “J”? In some ways, I believe so.