For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:1, 13-14, ESV)
You are free to live as God designed you to live. We are no longer a slave or a prisoner of our past. The Word of God reminds us that we are servants of Jesus Christ. This one word should be characteristic of every believer. It speaks to the attitude we are supposed to have. It means that we are to completely submit to His will. We are here to serve His people, the church. We are here to serve others so that they might come to know our Savior by the things that we do. And we are certainly here to love and serve our spouse as God intended.
According to Bible scholars, the two most common words in the New Testament for “serve,” “servant,” or “serving” are douleo and diakoneo. Douleo literally means to be a slave, to serve, to obey, to submit. Diakoneo was used to describe someone who served tables. I loved working as a waiter/bus boy here in Miami during my younger years. It really taught me what it meant to serve people. Serving customers from many different countries gave me a great understanding of what serving was all about.
Diakoneo meant to minister to someone, to serve them. The idea is that you provide for the physical and material needs of others. If we are going to serve others effectively, including our spouse, we must first completely submit to God’s will for our lives. The way you serve your spouse is a measurement of your love for them. If you want to build a great marriage and fall more in love with your spouse, start serving them without reservations.
In Christ, you have a comprehensive freedom. You have been freed from the power of sin—the past. You are now free from the penalty of sin—the present. One day you will be free from the presence of sin—the future. So you can begin to serve your spouse and others without carrying unnecessary weights to slow you down. Experiencing freedom the way God intended comes from walking in the Spirit. You learn to love and serve your spouse through the overflow of your love and service to God.
God’s Spirit teaches us how to live by divine design. As you meditate on God’s Word and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit, He will teach you how to serve and minister to your spouse. Moreover, He is the one who helps you do the same with others. Concentrate on knowing God and loving God more and He will take care of teaching you how to love and serve in the most fruitful way possible. Loving God and loving your spouse freely is very powerful. Remember, we live in freedom by faith through our Lord Jesus—the source of our freedom.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2, ESV)
What we have to keep in mind is that freedom must be practiced before it can be realized. Creating good habits to grow your marriage through serving your spouse is smart, very smart. More than just staying married, you and I want our marriage to last forever, until God separates us. This holy desire is realized as we practice love in action. The last three chapters of our book, Marriage Catalyst and Matrimonio por Diseno (http://www.marriagecatalyst.com/Grow-Your-Marriage/Explore-Resources.html) focus on creating habits to build a happy marriage, a great marriage. Creating habits to protect, direct and grow your marriage begins with a heart of service. This is not automatic. We have to practice at serving our spouse. It’s not only about the quality of our service that counts it’s the quantity of our service too.
Don’t miss this next point. You are free to love, minister, and serve your spouse and others without reservations (John 13:1-20). In Christ, we are free to love others as we love ourselves (Galatians 5:14). The quality of the way you serve others, including your spouse, reflects the quantity of your love for them. Gene Getz once wrote, “If we loved one another more, we would serve one another better.” He was right on the money. The more I love God the better I will serve Him. The more I love my wife the better I will serve her. The more I love my children the better I will serve them. And the more I love those who are struggling in their marriage and contemplating separation and or divorce, the better I will serve them. My love for others is measured in part through my service. When I commit my life to serving others I will realize my true purpose for living. Jesus reminds us of this important truth.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:25, ESV)
Find someone who can benefit from your life’s experiences and start serving them in love. You may ask, “But how can I do this?” First of all, get to know their challenges. What are people having a hard time figuring out on their own? What seems to be a constant challenge for them to face on their own? Use your education, skills, abilities, resources and contacts as tools to help them succeed. By the way, this also applies to your marriage. Leverage all that you have to help your spouse be all that God designed them to be. You were designed to be a source of help for your spouse. Yes, you are the one! Become a problem solver, a solutions provider for your relationship. This is why serving your wife or serving your husband is so important. Many answers for marriage problems can be found when serving one another is already integrated into the environment of your marriage.
At the heart of serving others, including your spouse, is faith working through love. Gene Getz reminds us, “As believers we are to give ourselves totally to one another in the most devoted sense.” Are you giving yourself completely over to your spouse? If you are, this surrender will marked by unselfish service. It will be marked by enthusiastically serving his or her needs on a regular basis. Spontaneity, creativity and consistency will all be part of the equation.
As we bring this devotional to a close let’s focus on one final point to consider as it related to our freedom to love and freedom to serve. Your obedience to God’s Word energizes your freedom. This simple, yet powerful statement is worth writing down. True freedom is found when you completely submit yourself to God’s Word in every area of your life. For you to effectively love God and serve Him, you must obey Him. For you to effectively love your spouse and serve them, you must submit to and follow God’s Word in every area of your life. Gene Getz once again reminds us, “It is truth applied that really sets me free.” You are now FREE to serve others, including your spouse in love.