Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. ~ Matthew 7:6
What is Jesus talking about here?
I have heard this used as a reason not to preach the gospel to folks, as though telling someone about the amazing grace and love of the Father toward them would constitute not only a waste of time, but a breach of the Master’s will.
Though the gospel clearly qualifies as something holy, and would be a candidate for “pearl of great price” status, we know this can’t be the case since Jesus said “Preach the gospel to every creature” this would clearly include the aforementioned dogs and pigs.
So what is He talking about? A prophetic word? Some deep revelation? That is the way I have taught this in the past, but today I noticed something.
Context! Every translation I have looked at has this in the paragraph, the same train of thought as His discourse on judgment.
It flows like this:
Don’t judge unless you are ready to be judged.
Before you point out someone else’s faults, inspect and correct your own life.
Don’t try to correct the dogs and pigs.
In this context let’s take a fresh look at how we might apply this.
First, in this context who are the dogs and pigs? I am thinking – dogs and pigs are a different species.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:17
When you receive Christ, you are changed completely right down to your innermost being – you are a new species. No longer a dog unable to understand, no longer a pig, addicted to every sort of filth.
You are a God man with the Spirit of the creator at work on the inside.
The second big thought here is that godly correction – a brother or sister coming along side you and helping you to get the speck or plank out of your eye – is not just helpful. In the context, it is holy and precious.
David said it this way
Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds. ~ Psalm 141:5
This is a big deal. We need to understand this. So many Christians get their nose out of joint because someone was picking at their lifestyle, or choices, when in reality it is a healing balm.
Clearly we need to learn to administer such holy and precious ointment in a way that brings no harm.
I believe what the Lord is saying is that when we try to correct the behavior and habits of those who don’t know him, we are putting that which is holy before those who can’t understand, and we are tossing the precious pearls of correction down where they will not only be misunderstood, but they will create offence, and the pigs will turn and attack.
I believe the body of Christ (me in particular) could be helped immensely if we would learn to give and receive godly mature advice in a way that is non-toxic.
One last gleaning from this verse. Don’t be surprised when you criticize the world for being, well, worldly, that it turns around and goes on the attack.
The Lord calls us to bring the light and life of the gospel to every creature, but He does not advocate trying to bring moral conformity to them.
When we attempt to change the actions of people without changing their hearts, we end up either with them turning and tearing us apart, or we get a culture of morality which will cause the lost to feel saved, and miss Christ entirely.
What do you think about this? Do our efforts to curb bad behavior backfire on us?