One of the simplest, yet handiest tools known to man is…the sponge. Everyone’s got at least one. Sponges have always fascinated me. I’m not talking about little, living creatures found primarily in oceans. I’m referring to the household variety commonly made from cellulose wood fibers or foamed plastic polymers. At least what my “sponge” search online told me.
OK, end of science lesson. What strikes me about the sponges we have in our homes is they sit quietly, waiting on a spill or for someone to make a mess, and then they’re ready to help with the cleanup. (As a matter of fact, I just used one – our 16-year-old dog apparently has a digestive issue. As teenage girls would say, “Eeeewwww!”)
|Sponges like this one are great tools - until|
they become saturated. (Photo-Wikipedia Commons)
Anyway, the curious thing about manmade sponges is they soak up and soak up some more, until they’re saturated. Then, however, they’re useless. They can’t soak up another drop. So we throw them away, right? Of course not. We squeeze them out, eliminating as much of the absorbed liquid as we can, and they’re ready to go back to work.
The reason I’m “sponging” this concept off on you is because just as the sponge principle is to soak up, saturate, squeeze out and begin soaking again, I’ve long thought there’s a “spiritual sponge principle” as well.
Today people with any interest in Christianity, religion or spirituality have more resources available to them than ever: Christian bookstores sell Bibles, books, CDs, DVDs and products of every kind, on every topic. Christian radio broadcasts 24/7, along with religious TV programming, catering to a wide range of theological bents. The Internet provides more spiritually oriented content than anyone could ever absorb. Some regions of the country are considered more “religious” than others, but no matter where you live, if the urge strikes to go to church, there’s one not far away. And every weekend, if so inclined, you can take in some Christian-oriented conference, workshop, seminar or retreat. There’s no lack of information.
But if that’s true, I’ve often wondered, why does this nation with such a strong Judeo-Christian heritage – and the people in it – show decreasing evidence of God and sound principles of the Bible in their everyday lives?
I think one reason is because, like spiritual sponges, we tend to soak and soak and soak up biblical information, but rarely bother to squeeze out our “sponges.” As a result, we’re beyond the saturation point, but don’t know it – or don’t care. A preacher described it this way: “The sit, soak and sour syndrome.”
The Bible repeatedly warns against this, a tendency world evangelist Luis Palau called “the lust of the mind.” One translation of Jesus’ declaration in Luke 16:10 expresses it this way: "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.” In other words, if you’re not willing to use and apply what God has entrusted to you, why should you expect Him to trust you with more?
Addressing one of his younger protégés, the apostle Paul wrote, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6, NIV). The apostle wasn’t speaking just about evangelism with nonbelievers. We can also share our faith in conversation with fellow believers, offering what we have learned and what it means to us – and learning from them as well. We also share our faith when we live out what the Bible teaches. When we do this, putting our faith into practice, we gain a fuller understanding of what we know about God – and about ourselves.
Presenting His so-called “parable of the talents,” Jesus taught about some servants and their stewardship of what their master had entrusted to them. Upon his return, the master reviewed what the servants had done on his behalf. To the devoted, enterprising servants he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21).
In effect, Jesus was teaching the “spiritual sponge principle”: Once we have absorbed what God provides for us, don’t keep it to yourself. Squeeze the sponge by sharing it, putting it to use, applying it in your life in ways people can see – showing the reality of Christ in your life.