Jesus said, “Don’t give what is holy to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs, otherwise they will trample on them with their trotters, then turn on you and rip you to pieces.”
— Matthew 7:6 (USC)
Transitions in the biblical text are not uncommon, and Jesus tends to jump about the place in his teaching at times; verses 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew 7 have that property about them. As a disciple, we, as much as Jesus’ original hearers, must remain on task. From an invocation to integrity, to a warning to be wise regarding truth, to the invitation to seek, we have a dynamism implicit in the message, and key facets of insight are likely lost.
In conversation, at times, I have often felt that sense of, “Why did I open my mouth?” I think that is what Jesus is talking about here. He is warning the disciples, on the other side of hypocrisy, regarding how a hypocrite might respond to the message of truth. And even though he is instructing the disciples not to give to dogs (any legalistic Jews) or throw valuables at pigs (any immoral gentiles), Jesus, in fact, gave them the very antithesis as an imperative: the Great Commission — “Go, therefore, and make all the nations disciples...” (Matthew 28:19a)
But we ought to be wise in our broadcast vision of the gospel.
We are to proclaim the gospel of Jesus with all zeal, yet be aware of the dogs and pigs — and not waste our message in those circumstances.
We still believe that the gospel truth will penetrate into anyone’s life, but we rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading so the message isn’t trampled and we evade wanton assault.
There is a scant respect in those who despise both the message and the messenger. We are to be shrewd like snakes, yet innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Wisdom will carry us farther than we think, especially as we sense we are encountering a vicious dog or a pernicious pig.
Peace is upon us, and all the places we go to, and upon the people we see, when we are welcomed. But if our message is trampled and we sense an attack — even a sense of ambivalence — we ought to retain our peace, and shake the dust off our feet (Matthew 10:11-15).
Let the Spirit lead us for we will never be forsaken.
Let the Spirit guide us in every way we should go.
Let the Spirit fortify us in the mode of pacifist battle — nonviolent resistance.
Let the Spirit be blessed by any work we do in his Kingdom’s name.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Where have you been tempted to share God’s love and that still, small voice of the Spirit inside you has said, “No, not here; not now; not this way?”
2. What is lost if we don’t share the gospel when we should? What is gained if we share the gospel when we shouldn’t?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.