Sponge, Funnel, Strainer and Sifter
From the Rabbinical Jewish Talmud, there are four types of students, or hearers, who sit among the Rabbis.
1.”The sponge,” who soaks up everything.
2.”The funnel,” who takes in at one end but lets it go at the other end.
3. “The strainer,” who strains the wine but retains the lees.
4. “The sifter,” who removes the coarse meal but collects the flour.
It is similar to the teaching Jesus gave about the farmer who went out to plant his seed. It wasn’t about the farmer, but the different soils the seed was cast upon. There were four:
- The packed soil of the hard path that was impossible to penetrate.
- The rocky soil so full of rocks the roots had no place to go.
- The weedy soil that kept the plant from maturing and becoming fruitful.
- The healthy soil that was soft, receptive, and ready to support life.
As we know, Jesus spoke the parable to illustrate four kinds of hearts.
Over the summer I’ve been transforming my back yard. Not the whole yard but the flower beds that line the fence on three sides. They were overgrown with bushes, shrubs, trees, flowers, vines, and ground cover; it looked like a rain forest. Besides being an overwhelming jungle it was just too much to maintain. So, I’ve been thinning, pruning, and removing. I’ve been pulling out three kinds of wild vines and all the ground cover.
Along the way I encountered four kinds of dirt:
- Dirt that hadn’t been worked in years, it was hard and unyielding.
- Dirt that was saturated with small rocks form earlier landscaping.
- Dirt that was rooted from the weedy and thorny vines.
- Dirt that was soft, clean and without rocks, roots, or weeds.
I’ve spent the summer digging, pulling, uprooting, cutting, raking and leveling. It’s September 2 and it’s finally coming together! Yeah.
If the soil had all been #4 soil I would have been finished weeks ago.
When it comes to cleaning up an unkept flower bed, give me soft soil without weeds, vines, or rocks. With clean and receptive soil I can easily plant new things and shape the soil to accommodate whatever I want to do.
I hope that’s how Jesus finds my heart. With a clean and receptive heart he can easily plant new teaching and shape me to accommodate whatever he wants me to do.
But am I? Am I the 4th soil? Am I the sponge? Or am I something else. What about you?