Casting Pearls

 

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:6

This is an interesting little verse, don’t you think? I’ll let those who are smarter than I am debate whether this verse is part of the discussion in verses 1-5 about judging others, or a separate, stand alone verse; I’m dealing with it alone simply for the sake of clarity.

“Dogs” and “pigs” were two rather uncomplimentary ways of describing Gentiles back in the day, but I really don’t see anything in the verse that limits this teaching to any one person or group, so for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just agree that the person or persons Jesus is referring to is (are) “unclean” in the old Jewish ceremonial sense.

I don’t think that it would be news to anyone if I told you that there are people out there who simply will not listen to anything related to the gospel, just as there are people who will talk about God all day long, and then freak out at the mention of Jesus… unless it is used as an expletive. Some may even react with violence. I suppose there may be many reasons for this, and again, I’ll let others try to make a list, because I doubt that such things were in Jesus’ mind at the time He taught this.

What He is telling us here is that we need to be discerning when we discuss the gospel with others; another word we might use for this is “sensitive”, we must be sensitive to where the other is in their life when we approach them…

But how can we be sensitive or discerning in this way; shouldn’t we just walk up to complete strangers and tell them (in a loud voice) that they are evil worthless sinners and that they are going to fry in hell if they don’t accept Jesus this very minute?

Hardly; did Jesus do that?

The answer is to develop relationships with people, to get to know them, to develop mutual trust and respect; that is how we gain a hearing with them. Notice that in the gospels, Jesus is usually in a conversation with one or more people, and is seldom making a speech to a mass audience. By following this example, we can better discern who is ready to receive the gospel and who isn’t ready yet, and in the process, avoid doing a considerable amount of damage both to our relationships, ourselves and to the gospel itself. After all, most of us are aware of the fact that there have been times in our own lives when we were not receptive, and barring something unusual, we didn’t receive the message during those times.  I would have to conclude that Jesus is giving some very solid advice here, particularly when you consider that sharing the gospel is not a completion, but rather a life-process.

 

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