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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Friday, September 30, 2005

Pearls before Swine

“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.” - Matthew 7:6

To conclude His remarks about judging, Jesus paints a powerful word picture. Remember, He did not tell us that we shouldn't ever judge at all. He told us not to judge self-righteously, with the thought that we are better and superior and therefore have the right to condemn someone else. But we know from the Scriptures and from Jesus here that we are to discern - to know what is right and wrong, and to have the insight into people's character (or lack thereof) to make a judgment (or decision) about whether or not we should listen to them, associate with them, or continue to witness to them.

Jesus tells us not to give what is holy to the dogs or to cast our pearls before swine. Let me explain what He is saying here - first, dogs in this verse are not household pets. As a matter of fact, in most families today it seems that dogs aren't even pets but members of the family! He is referring to the wild, stray dogs that roamed the wilderness. They would congregate around the city dump looking for food. These were wild animals that were often diseased and if bothered, they would attack people!

Jesus is giving the crowd an idea - and asking a question." Would any of you listening ever think to give something holy to a wild dog?" By this He meant that in the sacrificial system, parts of the animal sacrificed was given to the priest, part of it was kept by the family that offered the sacrifice, and part of it (the best part) was left on the altar for God alone. This was the holy part. Can you imagine the uproar if a person took what even the priest could not have and gave it to a wild, diseased dog? That was God's!!

Jesus also tells us not to cast our pearls before swine. This one is easy to understand - who among us would take the most expensive and precious piece of jewelry they could find and throw it out into the pig pen? At the time Jesus was preaching, the pearl was one of the most rare jewels. And the pig was one of the most "unclean" animals to the Jew. Who would ever think to take their most valued possession and toss it to pigs? And these were wild boars who would just as soon rip a person to pieces with their tusks if they had the chance.

So what is Jesus saying here? I mean, wasn't He just talking about how not to judge with the wrong motive? Didn't He just say to take the blinding beam out of our own eyes so that we could see to help others remove the splinter in theirs? So, where is this going now? Don't take what is holy and precious and throw it out to dogs and pigs? In other words, our responsibility as Believers is to preach the gospel to everyone. We are commanded to take the truth of God wherever we go and share it with anyone we come across. But as we do that we must understand - we are not responsible to "win souls". Only the Holy Spirit can win souls. We are not convert makers, we a truth sowers! Everywhere we are able, spreading the truth of the gospel.

As we do so, we leave the results up to God. He gives the increase! And we are to realize that we are not to judge self-righteously and write people off. We can't judge a person and decide that they don't need the gospel because they wouldn't respond anyway. We can't condemn like that - He just commanded that we not. But at the same time, we must discern. We must make a "judgement call" about what to say and when, and how to say it. And we must understand the character of those with which we deal. To know and admit that someone is a sinner is not the same thing as to judge them. To know that someone needs help is not to look down at them.

Jesus Himself told the disciples that as they were a witness, some would heed their message, others would not. Not every person we talk to will believe what we tell them about Christ. We will, at times, see our witness rejected. And Jesus said that if the gospel was shared and a person was of such evil character that they refused the gospel and fought against the witness - then we are to "shake the dust off our feet." The kind of judging God expects of us is judging when to witness, when to rebuke, when to comfort, and when to quit.

As He leads us there will be times that we have said all we can. And if a person does not heed our warning about the judgement to come and if they reject the good news - there is nothing else we can do! To persist in sharing the truth, that which is holy, and that which we hold as more precious then pearls, that would be just like giving what is God's to a dog and tossing jewelry out to the pigs.

For example, Jesus in Matthew 10:14, tells the disciples, "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet." In other words, you've done all you can and all I've commanded, so move on. And even Paul, in Acts 18:6, told a group of disbelieving Jews, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles." Paul discerned that his efforts where he was were fruitless and he made a determination - he had done all he could so it was time to move on. If we persist to witness and share truth where truth is not accepted, in time the ones we share with will turn on us and tear us to pieces (verbally or maybe even physically).

It doesn't do any good to continue in a fruitless effort. So when do we stop? That is the judging we are to participate in! We are to judge for ourselves when God is leading us to move on and let them alone. We must judge the time. Is it time to take our efforts to make disciples elsewhere? Just as we are not to hatefully condemn others for their sin, we also are to judge when we have done all we can do, and to realize that any other effort on our part would be as foolish as accessorizing a hog.

Now today, we must admit that we do not cross the line very often as far as offering holy things to dogs. Actually, we are so timid and so infrequent at sharing the truth, that I believe we are in no danger of violating this verse. We must be sharing and witnessing if we are to know when enough is enough. We can't even for a moment think that we should share a "God bless you" once and think that we have been a witness and that to press things any further would violate this principle. NO! In order to understand this principle we must be doing what He says. We must be obedient to witness before we can judge when to stop. If any of you use this as an excuse not to witness ("Oh, I don't want to cast pearl before swine because they hate God anyway!"), God will send His Spirit to convict you of the truth you have heard here. And I won't be responsible for the Father/child talk that ensues!!!

Be faithful to witness. Don't judge others. Inspect the fruit. And trust Him today for every provision!

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