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Sermon on the Mount: Pearls before Swine
Matthew 7:6, Matthew 10:16
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6 NASB1995
After cautioning us in no uncertain teams about not being self-righteous and sinful in our judgment of others, Jesus seems to contradict Himself by telling us not to give what is holy to dogs and to not throw your pearls before swine. The dogs and swine are usually understood as being those who are not believers and are openly hostile to the Kingdom of God. But they can also represent hypocritical believers who are excessively judgmental themselves or are unwilling to accept gentle correction (“pearls of wisdom”) when seen violating the commands of God. So this is not a contradiction if we understand that our judging actions ARE appropriate to ensure that a fellow believer is carefully guided back to “true north” or that we will know when not to waste our time on those that are openly hostile and trample the message underfoot.
In Matthew 10:16, as Jesus sends out His disciples, He says the following:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Matthew 10:16 NASB1995
We are to be shrewd (or wise) and innocent at the same time heading out into the world. We must be grounded in His word and be mature in our beliefs, so that we can gently counter the indifference, hostility, contempt, self-righteousness, actual threats of violence and immaturity of believers and non-believers alike.
Here are some thoughts from Greg Allen from Bethany Bible Church from a sermon he gave in 2005 about this passage:
Now again, given all that has been said, I suggest to you that a dog in our verse this morning is meant to be understood as someone who is utterly hardened in their sin and hostile toward anyone who would seek to call them from it. They represent someone who is viciously opposed to the message of the gospel; and who would, if possible, gather together with others to attack those who proclaim it. When the hand of grace is extended to them by one of God's servants, this kind of "dog" snarls and snaps at it.
And similarly a pig in our verse is meant to be understood as someone who is utterly incapable of differentiating between what is holy and what is common; what is good and what is evil. It speaks of someone who could no more appreciate the precious value of the things of God than a pig could appreciate an expensive and exotic meal prepared by a gourmet chief. They could care less about the real value of something.
Jesus tells us not to put the two things together. Don't give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine. As judgmental as it may seem to some, Jesus is warning us not to be indiscriminate about how we share the precious things of Christ. Much harm comes about when we fail to practice good spiritual discrimination.
Good spiritual discrimination is very important when we share what is holy and precious from God!
My next Sermon on the Mount devotional will examine Matthew 7:7-11: Ask and it Shall be Given.
The sermons from Bethany Bible Church are copyright 2005, all rights reserved.