It doesn’t take very long in a marriage to realize that along with a lot of blessings, marriage comes with a lot of work. While building a relationship with the one that you love is wonderful, a lot of time this work requires sacrificing what you desire and what you need (or think you need), for the good of the relationship and the benefit of the other.
And while oftentimes we talk about this sacrifice in terms of the big decisions – a willingness to put your career on hold in order to support a spouse, or moving away to unfamiliar places to do what God has called you both to do, this decision to lovingly sacrifice shows up in a variety of smaller ways too. I was reminded of this when several weeks ago as I was getting ready to go to sleep, I asked my husband if he needed anything. To my surprise, he asked for a glass of water….after I had already cozily placed myself under the comfort of the sheets. While I mentally started to protest that the offer had expired, I realized that if words were genuine, it meant I had to get out of bed and go get him a drink. Otherwise, what I had pridefully considered a loving offer was nothing more than window dressing. I wanted to go through the motions of making the offer as long as it was convenient for me. Once it required sacrifice, I was no longer eager to do it.
As I thought about this more, I realized that the same is often true in the Church. We volunteer to serve, but then get frustrated when our gifts or talents aren’t “properly utilized” (at least in our humble opinion.) Our offers of service become contingent upon our terms and conditions. If the time works with our calendar, or the work is something we enjoy, then we will serve. If it doesn’t meet our standards or our needs, than we quickly bail, or perhaps even worse – we complain.
However, this pattern of “service” is antithetical to the pattern set by our Master. He saw and met the needs of others, even during the moments He had set aside for rest (see Matthew 14:13-21). What mattered to Him was not the cost He would pay, but whether He was doing the will of the One who had sent Him (John 4:34). He cared not about temporary inconvenience, but eternal impact.
May this be our standard too.