What is love? Biblical Garden of Love Intro, Part 2

If you haven’t read last week’s When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, an Introduction to the Biblical Garden of Love, check it out.

Welcome to the 1st Walk Down Memory Lane Wednesday! About a year ago, I began a study called the Biblical Garden of Love – an in depth look at the 1 Corinthians 13 view of love. Now I’m revisiting the garden and expanding on it. Without further ado, the Biblical Garden of Love: a series devoted to married love.

What is love? 

Other than a weird Haddaway song? Sorry, couldn’t help the reference.

To understand love, we have to commune with the Creator of Love, the God of Love. While it may sound a bit like a Sunday school down-pat answer, to know God is to know love because God is love.

I love gardens! I love walking between rows of colorful flowers, tall trees with cool shade on a hot summer day, the vibrant green of grasses waving in the breeze, maybe even a beautiful fountain spouting water high above the ground and shooting back down into a blue-tiled lined base. Why am I attracted to gardens? Because there’s something special about being surrounded by God’s creation, something that warms my heart, something that touches my soul. But gardens don’t just sprout up overnight. Someone has to plant the garden. Someone has to water the garden. Someone has to take care of the garden, pull up weeds, kill off unnecessary bugs that will threaten the safety of the garden.

“When we are grounded in God’s Word and seeking after Him, love blossoms.”                                                    *Photo Credit: Sherrie Ship*

Love is like a garden. Someone has to plant the seeds of love in your heart, this being God, because without God, we are incapable of loving others.

Then someone needs to tend to the garden of love and take care of it – we have been given a gift, not to squalor it or hide it, but to express it and cultivate it. What better way to cultivate the garden of love than by “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness!” (Matthew 6:33). When we are grounded in God’s Word and seeking after Him, love blossoms.

Someone also needs to water it and feed it with fertilizer. In a marriage, you need to spend time together; you need to cultivate time together; you need to be intimate together. You must feed and water your love.

Someone also needs to consistently pull up weeds that choke out love like hate, selfishness, and pride and kill off the bugs that threaten its safety like apathy, depression, and jealousy.

Sometimes you even need to let God prune the plants and flowers of love themselves – since marriage isn’t just a flower bed. Trials and troubles and pain will come along in the storms of life and if you aren’t planted in rich, deep soil, your love will be swept away. Sometimes you will need to replant your love after you’ve been uprooted and work through problems together.

The Context

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Basically Paul is writing here that you can have all these gifts, talents, abilities, knowledge, and even spiritual things like faith and charity, but if you don’t love and you don’t have love in your heart, everything is meaningless. You gain nothing. You have nothing. You are nothing.

Seems a bit extreme, right? Think of it this way. Love is the root of all relationships, not just married relationships. It is the seed from which everything else springs from – without it, the garden won’t grow. It is the baking powder in a cake – without it, the cake won’t rise.

We were created by a Loving God out of Love. We were saved from sin and redeemed from death and given new life because of His Love. We get married because we’re “in love,” but hopefully also because we have unconditional love for the other person, love that won’t just stop, walk away, or end because of storms that sweep through its gardens, because of weeds and bugs that threaten its safety and growth.

Without God’s love, we gain nothing in life, we have nothing in life, and we are nothing because an unloving God wouldn’t have done all those things for us.

Similarly in relationships, there’s really no point to keeping a relationship if you don’t have a mutual concern, care, and love for the other person.

In a marriage specifically, if a husband and wife don’t love each other, they gain nothing of value in being married, they have nothing of value within the marriage, and they are nothing to each other.

Big Picture: The Biblical Garden of Love will take time and work and effort, will sometimes be painful, but many times be pleasurable, and will require your whole heart to be in it!                                                                                                            *Photo Credit: Alicia*



  1. I appreciate the reminder! I’ve been taking my students through 1 Corinthians 13 in our once-weekly in-class devotional time, and I’m always convicted when we read through that section! I’m very much a “duty-everything” person–sort of the way I was raised–but that’s really not enough, and my husband knows it. It’s crazy to think something done lovingly, but imperfectly, is better than all my hurried, snappish attempts to “do your best out of duty.”

    • Great response, Janeen. I’m very much a check-it-off-the-list kind-of person, and sometimes I make the mistake of making things I do for my marriage into a checklist instead of a genuine heart-service. Trust me. I’m convicted too every time I read through 1 Corinthians 13 and through my own posts.

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