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Personal Spiritual Growth: Getting Out of The Kitchen By David Roadcup

We are embarking on a journey about a topic that is critical to the foundation for your life in Jesus Christ and ministry service. It is the idea of spiritual formation or as we call it, personal spiritual growth. There are several aspects of spiritual formation. I will enumerate those as we go. Our priorities are critical to our spiritual formation. How our priorities work into our lives is a big part of the nature of growing as a Christian. I will begin talking about priorities with scripture that comes from the ministry of Jesus. The text is Luke 10:38-42. Feel free to find the verse and follow along.

At the Home of Martha and Mary

This is a very striking story dealing with close friends of Jesus. Let me provide some background. We know for a fact when Jesus was traveling in his public ministry he had his twelve disciples, but scripture indicates that he sometimes had groups of women that followed them and helped them with their ministry. 

They contributed money; they may have done some of the cooking during the long walks between Galilee and Judea, and they helped in other various ways. As Jesus is traveling along, if the women were with him, he may have had up to 20 people with him as he approached Bethany.

They would have all been invited by Mary and Martha to stay with them. This indicates that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were fairly wealthy people. The average family back then would not have been able to afford to feed and house such a large number of people for the amount of time that Jesus would be there.

In the Mediterranean, the traditional style of eating includes a light breakfast to be served, the large main meal would take place around one o’clock in the afternoon, and then a light evening meal would be served. The meal that would have beenserved in this passage would have been the main meal.

Martha is in the kitchen preparing this meal. Jesus is teaching the people, which may have possibly been a large crowd, about the kingdom of God. Mary the younger sister is not in the hot kitchen with Martha. She is at the feet of Jesus drinking in everything that he has to say. The fatted calf has been killed. The vegetables and bread are being prepared. A desert may have possibly been prepared. Martha is working and sweating, and she notices that Mary is nowhere to be found. She walks out of the kitchen and into the place where Jesus is teaching and finds Mary sitting there listening to Jesus.

Martha stops Jesus in the middle of his teaching and basically says, “Lord, excuse me just a minute. I know what you are doing is important, but you do care, don’t you?” She is asking Jesus, “You do care. Don’t you? That I am knocking myself out in the kitchen while my sister, Mary, the little princess is doing nothing.” Martha stops Jesus with a lot of Jewishchutzpah and poses the problem to Jesus. If this isn’t stringent enough, Martha gives Jesus, the Son of God a command to tell Mary to help in the kitchen. Jesus responds, “Martha, Martha you are worried and bothered about so many things.”

Could this statement apply to your life today?

Jesus goes on to tell Martha that he appreciates all that she has done, but Mary has chosen what is most important and we are not going to take that away from her. There is a massive, major lesson to be learned when Jesus says only one thing is important.

So, what is this most important thing? It is seeking Jesus with all your heart and putting him first in your life.

That is the grand priority!

Mary was seeking Jesus. Mary was drawing close to Jesus, physically even. Mary was listening to Jesus and processing the message that he was giving. Jesus was telling Martha that a lot of important things were going on that day and that he loved her, but Mary has chosen the best part, the most necessary thing and we are not going to take that away from her. Knowing Jesus, loving him as your Lordand Savior, drawing close to him every day, being in his gentle, healing presence, connecting with him, embracing him, loving him, worshiping Him, and thanking him is the most important thing in your life. More important than anything else. It is more important than your health, family, job, savings account, degree, future, or retirement. Knowing him, loving him, and being close to him is THE most important thing in your life.

Crockpot or Microwave?

Let’s consider the differences between a crockpot and a microwave. In the morning, a meal is put into the crockpot, and it is plugged in and turned on. The meal cooks all day long, and in the evening a beautiful dinner is ready. With a microwave oven, the item is popped into the microwave, you hit a button and three minutes later, out comes whatever was cooked.

Spiritual formation is not a microwave experience. It is a crockpot experience.

It takes a long time. It takes a lot of focus. It takes intentionality from those who want to grow spiritually. It means that what happens to us in personal transformation cannot happen overnight or in a few hours. It means that over a period of weeks and months and even years sometimes I would say even decades, Jesus Christ is forming his character in your heart and your mind. That is spiritual formation. The way it is accomplished is mainly through the classic spiritual disciplines.

It is a daily thing living with Jesus!

It is the daily proactive development of a relationship with Christ. It is a relationship. It is NOT keeping rules. It is not being good so God will accept us and love us. It is building a heart-to-heart relationship with our heavenly father, Jesus his son, and the blessed Holy Spirit. So it is a daily proactive development of a relationship with Christ over some time. It just takes time to develop normally and naturally. As we practice the disciplines, giving it time and doing the work we are called to do, this will result in a love for God that is growing in our hearts and minds. It will result in obedience to him, which will then produce fruit from this in the life of the believer.

Jesus doesn’t want half of your life. He doesn’t want two-thirds of your life. He wants all your life, everything you are and everything you have.

C.S. Lewis in his book The Joyful Christian wrote a paragraph that is one of the most pungent things I have ever read about Jesus’s statement here. C.S. Lewis writes,

“The Christian way is different. Harder and easier. Christ says give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money, and so much of your work. I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and cut off a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth or crown it or stop it, but I want to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self. All the desires of whichyou think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked. The whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself. My own will shall become yours.”

This is what the Lord wants from us when it comes to spiritual formation. Hewants a surrendered heart, where we have died to ourselves by an act of our will and we are living for Christ every way we possibly can. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes discipline. It takes meditation on scripture. It takes drawing close to the Lord to make this happen, but this is exactly what the Lord is calling us to do when it comes to being formed spiritually into the literal image of Jesus Christ.

Total Surrender Required

First, what God wants for my life is more important than what I want for my life. We surrender that part of our lives to Christ. Jesus tells us that he will know that we love him if we obey him. When we were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we gave up any right to say no to Jesus about anything. Jesus is guiding me every day. It means that all my ethical and moral choices will be based on Jesus’s teaching and the word of God. The worldview I have about morals, ethics, and values are rooted in the teachings of Jesus and scripture.
 
It means that all my possessions belong to God, and I am now a steward of all that God has entrusted to me. Everything I have, everything I own now belongs to the Lord. When I gave that to him, he gave it back to me and said just understand you possess these things, but you do not own them. I own them and I am giving them to you to steward them for me. So everything that I own and everything I have belongs to the Lord and I steward that for him in the name of Christ. It means that my life is no longer my own.

I was bought with a price and now I belong to God.

This is the focus of what we are talking about here. It means that I am willing to kill my will and allow God to direct my life in every way possible. This is the heart and soul of spiritual formation. It means that we surrender our hearts and our lives to Jesus Christ. It means that we live in his love and his blessing every single day. We follow him in every way that we possibly can.

So, understanding spiritual formation we know this, Jesus is saying that if you want to grow in the way that I want you to grow as a Christian you must do this –you must begin by dying to yourself by killing your will and then you take up your cross every day and in faithfulness, consistency and in love for me and wanting to serve me because you love me, you carry your cross every day and you walk into service every day and you do my will.

That is what I want for you today, that you will know Jesus. Just like Mary, you will be seeking to sit at his feet and get to know him better. Then once you come to know deeply in your heart and once you come to know him with all of your heart, at that point you begin to grow and get stronger. Your roots go deeper, and the Lord is really in your life growing you and changing you and doing the wonderful
 
 
work of transformation which we all long for in terms of being in the kingdom and being a leader of the church. I hope these critical elements of getting started in spiritual formation are helpful to you, nurturing to you, and will truly feed and encourage your spirit.
David Roadcup

David Roadcup

Dr. David Roadcup is Professor of Discipleship and Global Outreach Representative with TCM International Institute. He has been in ministry for over 40 years. Besides youth ministries, senior/preaching ministries and college/seminary teaching through the years, Dr. Roadcup has authored numerous articles and three books. He has spoken in 37 states and 5 foreign countries. As one of the founding members of the men’s ministry Promise Keepers, he served on their Board of Directors for 11 years. In 2001, he was on the summer P.K. Men’s Conference Speaking Team. In addition to his wide-ranging ministry to the Church, teaching classes for TCMI and formerly at Cincinnati Christian University, he is presently on the Board of Directors of Christ in Youth in Joplin, Missouri (C.I.Y.) and the Board of Directors of Christian Arabic Services (C.A.S.). He has been married to Karen for over 50 years. Dave and Karen have two daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren. Dave’s great passion is discipling believers and helping Christians grow to deeper levels in their personal walk with Jesus Christ

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