We now come to the final portion of the statement made by Charles G. Finney which says, “…love…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.”
As we finish considering Finney’s brief definition of “love,” it is important to understand that the ability to and act of love requires certain natural capacities; natural capacities that make moral character possible. Moral character involves using the abilities we possess to make right or wrong choices. It is often the case that people assume that human behavior is under a system of causation. Genetic factors, chemical reaction, environmental considerations and even God are said to cause our behavior. Such causation eliminates moral agency, moral character and moral responsibility / accountability. However, within the pages of Scripture we are consistently commanded to make choices and the word that describes proper moral choice and proper moral character is “love.” If we eliminate moral agency, we also eliminate love. Not only is love to be characteristic of proper moral character, it is to be “…the ultimate end of existence…” Simply stated, this is to be the central purpose for which we live and the goal for which all of our choices are to be made.
Paul sums this up in the following statements:
Ro.13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
Ro.13:10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Ga.5:14 “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’”