“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
(Matthew 7:6 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus told us not to be too judgmental towards sin. But that does not mean that we are not to be discerning. Today’s verse proves that.
Back in Jesus’ day dogs were rarely kept as pets. They may have been used as working animals (e.g. to herd sheep) but for the most part they were wild animals who scavenged for food. They were dirty and carried diseases. For this reason they were considered dangerous and unwelcome.
Neither were pigs domesticated. They were considered unclean according to Old Testament law and therefore Jews would have nothing to do with them. Therefore, like dogs, they were wild, filthy animals who scavenged for food.
In this comment spoken by Jesus the dogs and pigs represent those who are on the outside of God’s kingdom – specifically those who are hostile to God. Just like wild dogs and pigs would not appreciate being given something they cannot eat, people who are antagonistic to God will not appreciate hearing something they cannot accept – the good news of the gospel.
Jesus commands His followers to not give what is holy and to not throw [our] pearls before them. Doing so will only make them angry causing them to turn on us and attack us.
Anyone who has tried to share the gospel with non-believers has probably experienced this. While some people politely turn down the offer to discuss it, others will launch into a hateful, foul-mouthed tirade against you and God. When this happens the best course of action is to not respond [Proverbs 26:4].
It’s no coincidence that Jesus made these comments immediately after His comments about judging others. Knowing if someone is ready to discuss the gospel requires discernment. It requires us to “judge” someone’s attitude.
Those who don’t yet believe are blinded to the truth by Satan [2 Corinthians 4:4]. And while we are to preach the gospel to everyone [Mark 16:15] there are times when we just need to leave people alone because discussing it will only create more hate and resentment in them. This is exactly what the first disciples did when they encountered resistance [Acts 19:9].
Not everyone is ready to hear the good news of Jesus. Sometimes pushing the gospel pushes people away from God. When it does we should be filled with sorrow for them and should pray for them. After all, we were all once far away from God ourselves.
For many years I was a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth atheist who would pick arguments with anyone who tried to talk to me about Jesus. But it was God who changed my heart and it is God (and only God) who can change the heart of anyone who does not believe [Ephesians 2:1-7].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.