30 September, 2014

Don't Cast Pearls Before Swine

One of the most controversial passages of scripture is found in Matthew 7:6 where Jesus says, "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."  I also believe it is one of the most disobeyed scriptures in the Bible. Especially in the day and age we live in where everyone screams "Intolerance!" at Christians who do not accept and embrace everyone just as they are. God help anyone who decrees what the Bible says! We are told at every turn, "You can't judge me!" "Judge not!"  (Another grossly misunderstood verse of scripture which I addressed HERE. The Bible is clear that we are in fact to judge. Take for example this passage (Matthew 7:6). How would you know who the dog is or the pigs are if you don't judge? Go ahead, spend some time on that one and it will come to you... this whole judge not thing is wrongly interpreted.

Anyway... on to today's topic. I believe that one of the things that is hindering the progress of the church is that we are not paying attention to Jesus' words. His directive could not be more clear. Don't give what we hold and cherish to those who will not embrace it. I don't believe that Jesus' intent was that we pick and choose who we give the Gospel message to. Rather, what he is saying is, "watch what they do with it." There is a difference. When you or I continue to give our attention, energy and resources to someone who does not appreciate it and is only using us, then we are casting our pearls before swine.  We need to get a handle on this within our own minds because the devil is really good at keeping us tied up, worn out and busted because we give to the "dogs and pigs" who do not appreciate what we have to give rather than to seek out those who will actually pay attention to exactly what we are giving them and embrace it, rather than use it (and us).
This passage takes place in Jesus' sermon on the Mount and what Jesus is telling them and us is that we should not put what is valuable in front of those who will not recognize or flat out reject the value and will only use the gift and the giver until their need is diminished, at which point they will turn on the giver and destroy them.  What Jesus is clearly painting a picture of here is the person who runs to the church, the pastor or the Christian person every time they are in crisis or in need and beg for our help. They will appear so sincere and contrite and swear that this time they mean it and this time things are going to be different, but they know full well they are only using manipulation tactics to get their bellies full once again. Once they get what they want; their pain or crisis is alleviated... they are right back to their old tactics.
Let me illustrate. I have two dogs that I dearly love. They are beautiful and they are loving and fun. But they are dogs. Tell them to sit... they sit. Tell them to beg... they beg. Tell them to shake and they will shake. But they are not doing it because they want to sit, beg or shake. They are doing it because there is a treat coming when they do the right thing. Cute and loving... lots of fun... but dogs. If we are not watching, they will tear something up. They will dig in the trash. They don't recognize boundaries and they will go where they are not supposed to go, and make messes. And they do not recognize value at all. Just ask my son who made the mistake of laying his $100 bluetooth ear piece down on the coffee table. In the time that it took for him to walk to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and come back to the living room, his dog had gotten up on that table, snatched the bluetooth and chewed it up. It's value was meaningless to him. He just wanted it for his enjoyment.  This exactly what Jesus was conveying. A person who is "a swine" does not recognize value will come to you looking for something to eat. You could give them pearls... something of great value which is far more than enough to meet their immediate needs, but be enough to get them through life and they will not see the value. Rather they will "eat it up" and use it without recognizing the value.  Pigs do not appreciate fine jewelry! Just as a pig or a dog will eat anything dropped in front of it without seeing the value of it, a person of the character which Jesus is talking about is a consumer... a taker... and they are not looking for answers to life, they are just wanting something to make them feel better right this moment. They will take everything you give them and use it... but never appreciate just what you are giving them.  And when they have gotten all they can get from you, they will turn on you. They tell me that if you are in a pig pen, you never turn your back on a pig, because if you do, they will charge you, knock you down and the pigs will literally eat you. I guarantee you every pastor can relate to that! 
Jesus could not have painted a better picture of the way some people are.     
"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."
Child of God... give ear and pay attention. Do NOT think you are being "godly"  by being taken advantage of. Jesus was trying to tell us that what we have in the Gospel is of great value, and we are not to waste it. If someone is a dog or a pig... move on. Isn't that exactly what Jesus told the disciples? He told them that if they went to a place and gave them the Gospel and the people rejected it, to leave and shake the dust from their sandals. It is time we start heeding the words of Jesus. The devil has been having a hay day by sending dogs and pigs to us to distract us and take what could be given to someone who will embrace it and appreciate it. 
Time to move on!


Larry Knight said...

How do you balance "Cast not your pearls before swine" with Matthew 5:40-48 "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (41) And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. (42) Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away......" Yes, there are people who will take advantage of us. But sometimes it's not clear who is genuine and who is just being manipulative.

Darrell said...

Good question Larry. I think we may be on the same page, but different paragraph, so to speak. First and foremost my intention was for the most part talking more in line with the gospel than I am with material things, although I think that too can be applied. I am referring to people who want to "run to God" when they are in crisis, and want everyone to "help them" as they get their life on track. But as soon as the crisis is over, the leave the church (as they have done time after time) and live a life that does not reflect Christ. As we both know, being Born Again means more than being sorry for your sin. There is a need for repentance. These who have not and have no intention of repenting is who I am referring to. Repentance is not setting your sins on the back burner until things cool off and then picking them back up. That's the sort of manipulation I'm referring to.

I do want to say though, that while I always will error on the side of being generous and allowing myself to be taken advantage of financially, I don't believe for one minute that God's intention is for us to simply allow people to walk all over us and squander the resources that we are entrusted with as his stewards. I know when to say "no". Often times people will say, "that's not love!" I argue that true love knows when to stand firm and make someone to take responsibility for themselves.