Pigs and Pearls
Daily Reading: (Matthew 7:6):
“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.”
To understand the meaning of these words of Jesus we have to look at the context to bring clarity to our understanding.
So, let’s look at verses 1-5 for some more context.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
The clear context leading into our verse is the statement not to judge others. What becomes confusing is the very next thing Jesus says would appear to have us make a judgment of others. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” What is important to know is that the mention of dogs and pigs throughout the Bible is used to speak of non-believers. This seems not only to be a complete contradiction to what we just saw in verses 1–5, it also seems to go against many other places where Jesus seems to be saying, “take the Gospel to everyone.”
Imagine you have animals in your care, like pigs and dogs. You give them something which is very, very valuable, but it’s something they cannot digest. What Jesus is saying is, “don’t be surprised if they attack you. Don’t be surprised if they turn on you.”
The pig is expecting corn husks but in comes a pearl. Of course, the pearl has a value. It’s immeasurably more valuable than a corn husk, but the pig doesn’t have the ability to either perceive or assess that value.
What does this tells us? These animals are acting in accordance with their nature. Matthew 7:6 is about spiritual reality. What is a human being like without eternal life? A human being without eternal life looks at the holiness of God and says, “So what am I supposed to do with that?
That’s the difference between a human being with eternal life and a human being without. To have eternal life means you sense the awesome holiness of God and the sweet grace of Jesus Christ. You understand the astonishing death for us on the cross. You recognize the eternal value of the human soul, that God would give such a great price to rescue and redeem us. The dogs and the swine do not have the ability to take in spiritual truth so don’t be surprised if they attack you for it.
In Matthew 7 Jesus is talking about human nature without eternal life. How do we move beyond being a dog or a pig, spiritually speaking? How does that happen? The answer comes with the pearl. The pearl is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It’s the good-news message of repentance, redemption, and restoration offered by God to all who will receive Christ.That’s the gospel of the kingdom. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).
The dog and the pig want to know, “does the pearl, does the Gospel of the Kingdom fill my belly? Does it make me popular? Does it build me a social media following? The message of the Gospel is that Jesus is all you need. He is your success. The beauty in the connection Matthew 7 has with Matthew 13 is the change in the way the man looks at the pearl compared to how the pig looks at it. The pig says, “Will the pearl enable me to get more of what I have?” However, the man gets rid of all he has to get the pearl.
Two utterly different approaches. The pig asks, “Is Jesus useful?” The man sees Jesus is beautiful. The pig tramples the pearl under foot, the man sells all he has because He perceives the value of the pearl. The man responds favorably to the Gospel.