Pigs and Pearls

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.

Sparrows and Ravens

Sparrows and Ravens

Daily Reading: (Luke 12:6-7,24):

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”

One of the most enjoyable activities for me is to watch birds come and eat out of a bird feeder. Taking care of God’s beautiful creation is part of what you and I were created to do and it can be so rewarding. As I was looking out at the bird feeder, the Holy Spirit reminded me that even in a difficult time in our life, God will care for me as He does even the birds.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

Sparrows were a very cheap bird to be bought in Israel. You could get for one penny two sparrows, while for two you could get five. What a deal!  Adam Clarke Commentary said: “yet even it, so valueless, was not forgotten of God.”

“Not forgotten by God,” the word forgotten (epilanthanomai) can mean to forget but an even richer definition of the word is not cared for. Worry stems from forgetting about, not being mindful of, or doubting God’s care for you (Luke 12:6). Another way to say it is when you receive God’s love, when you wrap yourself in it, the things that trouble you will leave (1 John 4:18). That is why the next verse, Jesus tells us to “fear not” (phobeō). You could have a phobia of a lot of things- but gaze out at the bird feeder at those tiny little birds getting their needs met and remember God has promised to do the same for you. A skeptic would say, “well you are the one caring for the needs of the little birds, what does God have to do with it?” Do you not think that God worked on my heart to be mindful of the birds? God gave me the mind to think of them, the resources to purchase the food, and my reward was the joy of seeing the birds be feed through the provision of what God has given to me, bird seed. As I view the birds being fed, I can think,” how much more valuable am I to God?” I used my resources to assist the birds because I believe in the promise that God will meet my needs. And I can use my resources to help others because I believe God’s supply doesn’t dry up.

Later in the same chapter we move to another bird, the ravens.

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds” (Luke 12:24)!

Maybe today as we consider the ravens and we consider the sparrows, believers and non-believers alike might see God’s care for them. For the believer their trust in God will grow and for the non-believer their restored relationship with God might begin. Consider the ravens how they don’t have to plan, they just go about their lives and know that what they need will be there.

So how does prayer fit in if God already knows you need something but you don’t seem to have it and now you are worried about it? This is an excellent question where the answer is directly in the text. “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Prayer will focus our hearts on the Kingdom (Luke 12:31). When we know that God knows what we need and has promised to supply it, we will use what we have for the Kingdom.

Remember the raven and the sparrow have little monetary value, yet God cares for them. How much more valuable are you to God? Have confidence that your loving Heavenly Father will care for your needs. This will free us from worry. As we put our minds on the Kingdom we are enabled to live lives of generosity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Consider the Ant

Consider the Ant

Daily Reading: (Proverbs 6:6-8):

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

Did you know that Scripture tells us to consider the ants (Proverbs 6:6-8)?Take a moment and marvel at how incredible they truly are. Here are some amazing ant facts:

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies!
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to the death!
  • When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.[1]

Proverbs 6 shows us how God views these amazing creatures He has made.  

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!What is a sluggard anyway? In the Hebrew the word (atsel) means sluggish or lazy.  When it comes to the provisions of God don’t be lazy, look all around you, see it, take hold of it, and use it to prepare you for the seasons ahead (Proverbs 6:6-8).

The text says, “It has no commander,no overseer or ruler.”This reminded me of another verse in Scripture: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). Be like the ant. If you are working for the Lord, oh the things you can accomplish, oh the obstacles you can overcome (Colossians 3:23).

Even the mundane tasks at work, do it as unto the Lord. You will receive your reward from the Lord, not your boss. When you do it unto the Lord, He sees and rewards. Jesus said in Luke 16:10, whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Matthew 25:21: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’” I believe those who are diligent like the ant with their time on earth are going to be entrusted to an awful lot of great stuff in heaven. What joy!

The text tells us that if we consider the ways of the ants, we would be wise (Proverbs 6:6) The ant is diligent and has initiative. It knows that it has to consistently prepare for the future. It doesn’t procrastinate or wait until the last minute to prepare its provisions. That’s the practical life wisdom we can learn from the ant. The provisions God has given you today, how super abundantly blessed we are, (taking care of our needs) also propel us forward into what plans He wants to accomplished in and through us. God’s supply doesn’t run out, it is consistent and constant and like the ant we should be diligent in spending time with our Savior receiving from Him so we are prepared to move forward by faith into the prosperous path He is leading us forward in.

[1] Ants: Fun Facts About Ants & Ant Information For Kids. https://www.pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/ants/