Love As Deference

In Entering into Rest, Oliver O’Donovan writes of Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:

At the center of the thirteenth chapter, then, we find a series of characterizations of love as deference. Love’s “patience” (for it now presupposes hope), and love’s “generosity” are explored both negatively and positively: not jealous, not boastful, not self-important, not dishonorable, not self-seeking, not quickly riled, not keeping count of evils, not gloating over wrongs, but also truth-loving, tolerant, faithful, hopeful, and persistent (1 Cor. 13:4-6)….Negative or positive, these features of love move round a well-described circle: restraint of competitive self-assertion, acceptance of others’ activities and initiatives, flexibility in waiting upon them, and readiness to give them time and space. They describe a moment when the urgent need to act is postponed in the interests of others’ actions….The gifts we ourselves have been given, the living of the life we ourselves have been called to live, open up to an end of action enriched by others’ gifts and others’ lives. Jonathan Edwards captured this active-passive disposition in the expression “consent to being,” a virtuous disposition which involved, as he explained it, both benevolence and “complacence,” satisfaction in the benevolence of another. We shall speak simply of “resting in” others’ labors. (pgs. 2-3)