Time & Marriage: Part 4 – Making Time to Love and Serve – A Couple’s Bible Study

With so many “irons in the fire” and so many demands on our time–individually and together, how do we decide what we should do? How do we choose the best things? And what are they?

Time is a priceless gift from God. How we view time influences how we live out each day and, therefore, has a great impact on our marriages. This Couple’s Bible Study will look at time from God’s perspective and give guidance and wisdom in making the most of our days…so we won’t waste even a moment of our lives together as husbands and wives.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

God’s Word is full of truths to help us make the best use of our time. And one of those is that our time is a gift from God. With this in mind as we choose what we will do, we should always ask ourselves: “What will be the result of me doing this in eternity? Will it have eternal consequences?” In other words: “Is this going to be something that would please God and further His Kingdom?”

Every single thing we do doesn’t have to be major or have some big impact. But it should always fit with our goal of serving God. And one way we do this is through serving others.

Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45: “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus also said in Matthew 23:11: “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Jesus Himself is our greatest example of loving and serving God by loving and serving others.

Romans 12:10-11 says: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

And we also are given this command in Galatians 5:13-14: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

We are to use the gifts God gives us to serve others. We read in  1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

When we use our time to serve God by serving others, He is pleased and takes notice. Hebrews 6:10 tells us: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

Therefore, loving and serving others is good stewardship of our time.

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But, to be good stewards of our time as a couple, there will be situations where we must say “no.” At times we must decline to do something so we can do those things God calls us to do. And this is certainly true in our marriage.

We see a good example of this in the life of Jesus. He had just told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem where He would be killed. Peter, in his typically impulsive way, “took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” (Matthew 16:22).

What Peter said sounded like a good thing. Peter was trying to protect Jesus so He could continue to have more time to teach, heal, and lead. But it wasn’t part of God’s plan. So Jesus responded to Peter: Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23).

There have been times when I agreed to do something even though I had already committed to do something with Sabra. And even though she was always gracious, it was wrong. My wife must be my first earthly priority.

God–the One Who is my number one priority of all–tells me in His Word that Sabra must come first in my service and decisions. He makes this clear in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh (bold mine).

When married, before we make any commitment of our time, we need to consult with our life partner—our spouse—with whom we are one. So, before taking on any projects, I have learned to stop, discuss, and pray about it with my wife and wait to say either “yes” or “no.”

Remember: Just because someone asks doesn’t mean we have to accept or answer immediately.

When an opportunity arises, discuss it with your spouse and pray about it together before accepting a new task. Always weigh the opportunity against what God has called you to do.

Not every opportunity is necessarily right for you–no matter how good or helpful it may be to others. By accepting a task God has not called you to do, you may be taking an opportunity away from someone else God has prepared for the job.

Here are some other ideas from God’s Word about using our time well that I want end this week’s teaching with.

First, be careful of time wasters. Ephesians 5:15-17 says: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

For me, things like television (especially sports) and the internet (especially sports websites) can take up far too much of my time. Many of the things we spend time on are not bad, but if they take time away from God and our spouses they can become Satan’s tools. Be disciplined to control things that can become time wasters.

Second, take time to plan together. Proverbs 21:5: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Every Saturday Sabra and I have our Couple Connect time—our weekly time together to read God’s Word, talk about the issues in our life, and pray. At the end of that time, we get out our calendars, look at the week ahead, and note what we need to do each day. We include church activities, appointments, job-related tasks, things we need to do for others, days we’re going to take walks, and any other known activity for the week. This communication is vital for us to see what is ahead and plan accordingly.

I encourage you to do the same.  (We have a free ebook to help you design your own weekly time together. You can download it here: Couple Connect – A Simple Weekly Plan to Stay Close for a Lifetime.)

As you plan your week, be realistic and don’t overload yourselves. If you miss too many goals, you could become even more stressed. If you have a particularly busy week, divide your tasks into what’s absolutely necessary and see what can be put off until another time, if necessary.

And beware about trying to do too much at once. Sometimes we can accomplish more if we only focus on one thing at a time. With all the new technology we have, the ability to “multitask” all the time is greater than ever. But that doesn’t mean we should constantly do two or more things at one time.

Third, ask for or offer to help. Work together when you can. Hebrews 13:16 says: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Offer to help your spouse when he or she has a busy week ahead. Seek the help of your spouse in the things you need to do, and get your children involved (if you have them). It’s a way they can also learn to use their time well to serve God by helping others.

Pray and ask God to help you prioritize your time so you can use it in a way that pleases Him.

Using our time well blesses not only our marriage, but it blesses God Himself and others. And it furthers His kingdom. As we choose to love and serve Him through loving and serving each other, it brings blessings that will last through all eternity.

Questions for Discussion

♦   Read this week’s teaching and discuss together what God has taught you through it.

♦   Talk about the ways you are using your time. Are you seeking God to make certain you are using it as He desires? Are you prioritizing your time based on what God is showing you? How can you help each other use your time to the fullest for God?

♦    Get your calendars out and go over them together for the week ahead. Discuss together where you are using your time well and where you might need to make changes. Are there things you need to re-prioritize or even say “no” to? Help each other with this.

♦    Pray together and ask God to help you to rightly prioritize your time. Ask Him to help you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

Next week we will discuss something about using our time that I really don’t like–waiting.

Until then may God bless you and your marriages in all His wonderful ways,
David

Other posts in the TIME & MARRIAGE series:
Introduction
Part 1 – Five Years Ago…Five Years Ahead
Part 2 – One in Purpose
Part 3 – Making Time for Rest
Part 5 – The Value of Waiting
Part 6 – How to Wait Well
Part 7 – Strong to the End
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Our busy lives demand so much of us. How do we choose what to do? This Couple's Bible Study tells us how to choose well and make time to love and serve God and each other. | Simply One in Marriage.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.