How Do I Serve My Spouse?
Marriage teaches you how to serve sinners—especially your spouse. When two individuals come together in marriage they are both entering into servanthood—meaning you are agreeing not to be self-serving, but to be a selfless servant towards your spouse. This type of service calls for self-sacrifice as exemplified by Jesus.
Jesus’ Ultimate Sacrifice Challenges Spouses To Sacrifice
- Jesus loved us by sacrificing Himself for us. He loved us so much that He was willing to “give Himself” for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God. As believers, we are to “walk in love,” meaning that our behavior is to be characterized by the same kind of love that Jesus loved us with. We should be willing to lay down our lives for others, especially your spouse. In marriage, you serve your spouse by sacrificing yourself for his/her benefit. This means you are willing to “give yourself” to your spouse; you are willing to endure loss of someone or something for him/her; you “give up/away” your rights, time, money and wants for your spouse; it is a call to selfless sacrifice.
Ephesians 5:2, 25; 1 John 3:16; John 15:13
- Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for us. He had the power or authority to keep anyone from taking His life, but instead without reluctance and ungrudgingly He denied Himself and died on the cross in our place. In marriage, you serve your spouse by willingly giving up something even if you have the power to do otherwise. You are choosing to “relinquish,” meaning you voluntarily cease to keep or claim “something” for the good of your spouse. You are to do it with an attitude that honors God—you don’t live with a resentful or reluctant attitude towards him/her because of the sacrifice you made.
John 10:18; Philippians 2:6-7
Principles From Biblical Service
- Serving your spouse means doing acts of humility for him/her. Before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was at supper with His disciples. He knew that His time had come and that God had given all things into His hands, but instead of exercising His great authority in this time of great anxiety He performed the lowly task of washing His disciples feet. At that time they wore sandals so it was customary to wash your feet when sitting down for a meal. This was the job of the lowest servant, but Jesus was the leader, He was the Son of God. He even knew that one of His disciples were going to betray Him, but He still chose to do this act of humility. He then challenges all believers to do the same. We are to serve those each other in lowliness of heart, even those who are under us. Therefore, in marriage you should find areas to serve your spouse through acts of humility.
- Serving your spouse means having a mindset of servitude. Jesus’ disciples came to Jesus and were wanting to seek greatness and it caused the others to be upset, so Jesus used this opportunity to teach them a great truth: the “great” or “chiefest” are those who are servants of all. Believers are not to exercise lordship or authority over others like unbelievers do. Just like Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, we are to do the same. Therefore, neither spouse is to completely dominate the relationship like a master or to reign over the other like he/she has sovereign power, but instead you enter marriage with the mindset that you are to serve your spouse—not to control him/her.
- Serving your spouse means putting him/her first. After another argument among Jesus disciples about who would be greatest, Jesus told them that if anyone desired to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all. Jesus is telling them that if they want to be great, then they are to put other’s priorities over their own. Therefore, you are not to seek your needs and wants first but humbly serve your spouse by putting his/her needs above your own. His/her needs are priority in your life—especially over self.
- Serving your spouse means serving him/her as to the Lord. As Paul addressed the role of Christian servants with their masters, he directs the attention to the motivation behind the service of the servants. The servants were to serve with sincerity, fearing God (not with eyeservice, as menpleasers). Their focus was to do whatever they did heartily as unto God and not men because ultimately they served Jesus. They were to serve well even if their masters were crooked, dishonest, immoral or evasive because God was their motivation (not the person they were serving) behind their service. Therefore, in marriage you should serve your spouse even if he/she doesn’t deserve it or even if you will have to suffer wrongfully by doing so. Jesus suffered for us and left us an example and we should follow in His footsteps. God should be your motivation to serve your spouse.
Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 1 Peter 2:18-23; 4:10-11
Practical Wisdom, Good Judgment And Common Sense
- Selfishness is the opposite of serving. It means that both spouses are placing their own needs and wants as priority over his/her spouse’s. We should genuinely be concerned with our spouse’s welfare and not just for our own interests.
- There are common areas that give rise to selfishness in marriage that every couple should be aware of: (1) Finances—money is a means of power and we often use this power to benefit ourselves more than our spouse or us the power to control them. (2) Time—this is limited and everyone has the same amount so we often want to selfishly protect our time instead of using it to serve our spouse for their benefit because we think our time is more valuable than theirs. (3) Decisions—when one spouse has to make a decision for the family, it is easy to make a selfish decision, only thinking about your needs or wants without taking your spouse into consideration. (4) Expectations—you expect certain things from your spouse in return for serving him/her, but when those expectations go unmet there will be problems. Instead you should serve without expecting anything in return—to serve out of love—no expectations. Questions: Ask yourself, are any of the contentions in your marriage because you are being selfish in these areas? What if you chose to selflessly serve your spouse, meaning that you would have to sacrifice in these areas (give up money, time, decisions, expectations), how would things change in your marriage?
- Be a blessing to your spouse and serve him/her through your words. One of the things we learned from Jesus’ example is that He didn’t respond with sinful speech to those who orally abused Him. As a believer, you are called to respond back with blessings not the same verbal attacks or abusive words that is being spoken against you by your spouse.
1 Peter 2:22-24; 3:8-9
- Jesus loved us by doing what for us?
- Serving your spouse means doing what?
- Serving your spouse means having what?
- Serving your spouse means putting who first?
- What are the common areas that give rise to selfishness in marriage?