Everyone wants to be great. I want to be a great husband, man, employee, etc. I want a great marriage. Don't you? Jesus said that if you want to be the greatest, you must be a servant (Matthew 23:11). Do you believe that? This is an interesting truth. When we think of ourselves lowlier than those around us and serve their needs, we become more noticeable to God. Humility in our service is important (Matthew 23:12). Sometimes this greatness is noticed here on earth too, think of the great servants of history: Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, and Nelson Mandela, these names did not become well known for being leaders, they became well known first for serving. They served the people around them until the world couldn't help but take notice.
Jesus demonstrated that same servant leadership here on earth. He didn't consider Himself too important to heal the sick, fix the broken, or tend to the tender hearted. He came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). If God humbled himself to serve us, it should inspire us to humble ourselves even more.
Paul wrote that we should serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13) and submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus (Ephesians 5:21). Serving is something we're all called to do, not just those that have the gift of service (Romans 12:7). Serving our spouse should be an act of obedience and deep respect to our Creator, Jesus. It is through our love of Jesus that I can serve my spouse.
Service should be self-sacrificing. There's no humility in service that doesn't require you to give up anything. Jesus humbled himself "by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross" (Philippians 1:7-8). Godly service requires that you give up your expectations, pride, and desires and do what needs to be done. This means that you do the chores, not when it's convenient for you, but when it's decidedly inconvenient for you.
You know what's inconvenient and hard for me to give up? Sleep. I don't head to bed until I'm tired, and somehow that always happens to be when chores need to get done. (Usually this is a result of my own procrastination and forgetfulness.) My wife will ask: "Where are you going?" and I'll reply, "To bed." "Can you unload the dishwasher first?" Everything in me wants to say "I'm tired, can't this wait?" But that's not the loving sacrificial servant's heart that Jesus demonstrated toward us. He didn't get to crucifixion day and say: "I've had enough of humbly serving you all. Angels come rescue me!" We know he didn't want to be there that day, as He prayed in the garden for another way; but he faced his last days in obedient, good spirits and ransomed us from death. His death was a form of service to us. He did the most important thing for us, that we could never do for ourselves: reconcile us with a just God.
In light of all of that, how can you best serve your spouse? With Jesus example in mind, here are some ways to serve.
Serve with compassion
Just as Jesus took our biggest need into consideration when He chose to die for us and save us from hell, we should consider what our spouse needs and desires. We should think about what they do out of obligation and not out of joy and serve them there in that obligation. Do for them the things they feel need doing, before they have a chance to. Help free them up from the obligations of this world so they can spend more time enjoying it. Serving goes beyond mere obligations to also considering our desires. Jesus did not need to heal the sick to save them from hell, he did it out of compassion. Show compassion in your serving too, think about what your spouse desires and help them in those desires.
Serve them practically
Do they hate being cold? Without being asked, bring them a blanket, turn up the heat, or turn on the car seat warmer. Cook them dinner and have it ready when the get home from a long day at work (yes, you too men). Surprise them with a lunch sent to them at work on a busy day. I did this one once for my wife when she forgot to bring a lunch and wouldn't have time to leave the office. It's amazing how many times her coworkers asked what'd I'd done wrong. Their reaction shows just how uncommon it is for love to be shown the way God commanded it. If you have kids, serve your spouse by watching them so they can go on a friend date. Whatever you do, do in love and in consideration of your spouse above yourself.
Serve them daily in the little things
Sacrificially serving your spouse is a daily calling. It may not feel sacrificial to grab your spouse a soda when you get up to get yourself one, but it is an important aspect of obedient, faithful living. Everyday, we should be seeking out opportunities to lovingly serve our spouse and to consider their needs as often as we consider our own (Mark 12:31). Think of it like this: your marriage is a service station, and you're the only employee. It's your job to make sure your spouse is well looked after.
Serve when you don't feel like it
The day will come when you ought to serve your spouse, and your heart is not in it. In that day, remember that Jesus served you with his life and death. There can be no burden in taking out the trash, scrubbing pots and pans, or getting on your knees and cleaning a toilet when compared to the greatest act of service Jesus did for us. Jesus served us, even when he hoped for a better option, and even though we didn't deserve it. Serving your spouse isn't about whether they deserve it or not, it's about whether you are willing to be obedient to God in every aspect of your life. It's about demonstrating the same love that redeemed you from hell. When you serve your spouse in that humble, sacrificial way, you will begin to understand more fully how hard Jesus' sacrifice for us truly was.
In all these things, we must always be thinking about how to stir one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). When we serve one another, we help fill each other with love and in abundance of love our hearts will be stirred to love and good deeds. Sacrificially serving our spouse allows them to see Jesus working through you and points their hearts back to the ultimate example of sacrificial service: Jesus' death on the cross. There's a reward in this for you too, you are also helping train your own soul to be obedient to the call of Jesus, which will result in you feeling more joy.
Love your spouse by humbly and sacrificially serving them.