Living sacrifices: learning how to serve your spouse

By Jennifer Bell

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”  —Romans 12:1 (CSB)

What comes to your mind when you contemplate this verse?

Is it the missionary to Africa who spoke at your church about his life of service to others – who lives far from family and friends, sacrificing physical comforts for the sake of others’ souls?

Is it the woman at your children’s school who works tirelessly with the children with special needs, giving them an education with grace and love mixed in?

Is it the foster parents who give a stable home to a child who needs it most, regardless of whether they receive love or scorn back from that child?

Is it the young nurse who goes to underserved areas to provide free medical care to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it?

What is a "living sacrifice"?

When I think of a “living sacrifice,” I think of these modern-day heroes. But I think when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these words, He had a much more daily—some would even say mundane—application in mind.

What does being a "living sacrifice" look like?

What would it look like to worship God by being a “living sacrifice” for our spouse? This idea is both simple and difficult at the same time. Simple in concept, but difficult in execution.

Depending on the season of marriage you're in, it might look like washing, drying, and ironing his work uniform, because you know he’s completely exhausted from his last 12-hour shift.

Or maybe it looks like drawing a bubble bath for her to soak in while you put the kids to bed—with no expectation of physical intimacy as “payback.”

Or how about giving him a deluxe (i.e. not 30 seconds) foot rub, even though it’s been a while since he rubbed your feet?

It could be as simple as pouring her a cup of coffee when you pour your own and delivering it to her in bed.

What does Scripture tell us?

Philippians 2:3-4 (CSB) tells us, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.”

This mindset is completely counterintuitive, but it’s God’s recipe for happy relationships. If I am more concerned with my husband’s needs than my own, I will have a happier husband. But you know what I will also have? A happy, peaceful spirit, because I’m living in sync with Jesus—the ultimate “living sacrifice.”

Grace Marriage Mission

Make a list of ways you can be a “living sacrifice” for your spouse, then plan to do these things in the coming days. It will make both you and your spouse into happier people, and it will drift up as a pleasing aroma to the One you worship.



Jennifer Bell has been married to her high school sweetheart, Brant, for 30 years. They’ve raised three sons and one daughter to adulthood, and are still best friends. She recently became “Mimi” to a new grandson, Elijah. She enjoys being part of the worship team at church, reading, and spending time with her book club friends, and just hanging out with her family in Franklin, TN. 

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Tags: Divorce, Ministry, Parenting, Faith, Relationship, Communication