Principle: Christian Character (Part II)

The central Christian character trait that must be present in our lives is love. Of course it needs to be defined. Love is not a feeling. I prefer the definition given by Charles Finney:

It has been shown that the sum and spirit of the whole law is properly expressed in one word—love. It has also been shown that this love is benevolence or good willing; that it consists in choosing the highest good of God and of universal being, for its own intrinsic value, in a spirit of entire consecration to this as the ultimate end of existence.

I italicized one portion on purpose. The essence of love, according to Finney, and, I believe, according to the Scriptures, is a choice to do the right thing. We may have feelings when operating in love, but those feelings are not love. The choice to do what God calls us to do, even when we don’t feel like it, is what love is all about.

Love then manifests itself in many other traits—righteousness, mercy, humility, faithfulness—the list of character qualities is quite long. Yet they all are grounded in love.

If we love, and if we are committed to continuing in that love [the character trait of faithfulness], the result is holiness. Some people have trouble with that word. They think it means you must dress a certain way, not go to the movies, or many other external prohibitions. I believe, however, that holiness is merely acting in love and doing it consistently. Doesn’t that take all the dread out of the word?

The world isn’t too concerned about doing the right thing.

Yes, but righteousness, based on love, would prevail.