WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
APRIL 14, 2021
TOPIC: DON’T CAST YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE
BY T. O. BANSO
“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 New King James Version).
Some words and phrases in the Bible have been adopted into the English vocabulary. These include phrases such as the Good Samaritan, eleventh hour, and the prodigal son. Those who are not well acquainted with the Bible may not know that these phrases are from the Bible.
In Matthew 7:6, Jesus said, “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” (New King James Version). In this scripture, the phrase “Don’t cast your pearls before swine” has become part of the English vocabulary. It was adopted from the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 in the Bible.
According to Collins Dictionary, casting your pearls before swine means you are wasting your time by “offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate or understand it.” Cambridge Dictionary says a similar thing: “to offer something valuable or good to someone who does not know its value.”
These definitions capture the everyday usage of the phrase. But what exactly was Jesus talking about when He made this statement that talks about the dog and swine. Does the meaning in the daily usage of the phrase is the same as the meaning in the context in which Jesus used the phrase?
What Jesus dealt with before He made that statement was the issue of judging others. He said in Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (New King James Version).
Based on this passage, many people have stopped others from calling their attention to the wrong they have done, saying that Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” To them, Jesus forbade any form of judging others. But that would be wrong looking at the statement within the context that Jesus made it.
In Mathew 7:1-5, Jesus did not forbid a Christian to correct others who have done wrong or sinned if the motive is to help them. After all, Galatians 6:1 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (New Living Translation).
What Jesus is against in Matthew 7:1-5, is a hypocritical, self-righteous attitude, a judgmental disposition, or an unfair criticism. He is against a holier-than-thou stance. If we are not to judge at all, Jesus would not have said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24 New King James Version). But when you judge, don’t assume an air of superiority over them.
It was after dealing with this issue of hypocritical, self-righteous judgment that Jesus said, “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.” When Jesus talked about dogs and pigs, He wasn’t talking about animals. He was talking about human beings who manifested some attributes of dogs and pigs. Most references to dogs and pigs in the Bible are negative.
Going back to the issue of not judging others, if Jesus forbade all forms of judgment, we will be wrong to call some people dogs or swine (pigs). However, hypocritical judgment is different from discernment. We must avoid hypocritical judgment but in relating to people, we must discern those who are dogs or pigs.
In Jesus’ days, dogs and pigs were not viewed the way society views them today. Dogs were not pets; they were wild, fierce, banded together in packs, and fed on refuse or garbage. It was derogatory to call someone a dog. The Bible regards unbelievers who will not enter the New Jerusalem as dogs (Revelation 22:15). Also, pigs were unclean and God forbade the Israelites from eating them (Leviticus 11:7). Dogs and swine were offensive to the Jews.
The Greek word translated holy is hagios, which means sacred. And the Greek word translated pearls is margarites. According to Smith’s Dictionary, pearls which are frequently mentioned in the New Testament were considered by the ancients among the most precious of gems and were highly esteemed as ornaments. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Pearls are often used as a metaphor for anything of great value.
Why did Jesus say we should not give what is holy to the dogs or cast our pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces? Dogs and swine, as used by Jesus, referred to “incorrigible and unreclaimable sinners, hardened scorners of holy things” (William Burkitti’s Notes on the New Testament).
Dogs are those who don’t appreciate holy things – the gospel, the truths of the Word of God. They regard holy things as common. They show hatred for holy things. Swine are those who don’t value the priceless ornaments or treasures of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said because dogs and swine don’t appreciate or value holy things and pearls (they are not food for them to eat!), they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. They are wild and aggressive.
As we’ve seen earlier from the dictionary meaning of the phrase, to cast your pearls before swine means “to offer something valuable or good to someone who does not know its value.” Although people apply this generally, it appears Jesus was talking about things related to the kingdom of God because in the first part of His statement He mentioned “what is holy” – Do not give what is holy to the dogs. In other words, don’t give what is sacred to people that do not appreciate its value. This would mean the gospel message and things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
It means that once someone has shown himself as an opposition to the Word of God or the things of God, don’t give it to him again. Don’t waste your time continuing to preach to him. Don’t waste your time following him up. Don’t waste your time on people who have shown that they don’t value the message you are sharing with them. They will not only trample on the holy things and the precious truths of the Word of God, they could attack you and harm you.
Jesus didn’t send us out to force people to accept Him as their Saviour. He has not sent us into the World to compel people to be converted. The truth is that nobody can convert another person. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts sinners (John 16:8). 1 Corinthians 12:3b says no one is able to say, “Jesus is Lord ” except by the Holy Spirit. If someone rejects the precious gift of salvation you have given him, leave Him before he injures you or do something worse.
Leave the scorners, mockers, or scoffers alone. Don’t let them waste your time. Go to other people who will value the pearl of the kingdom – a pearl of great value. Proverbs 9:7-8 says, “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you” (New King James Version).
Hear what Jesus said about those you stop preaching to: “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 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. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matthew 10:11-15 New King James Version). Mark 6:10-11 and Luke 9:4-5 record this.
The disciples of Jesus Chris went ahead of Him to a Samaritan village to prepare for Him. But the people of the village rejected Jesus because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. Two of His disciples, James and John, were angry and asked for His permission to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did.
Jesus rebuked them. He said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56 New King James Version). The Bible says they left and went to another village. There will always be another village, town, country, or person to preach to. Leave the dogs and swine.
In Acts 13, when the Jews saw the multitudes that had gathered to listen to Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, they were filled with envy. They slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas boldly told them that the word of God needed to be spoken to the Jews first. However, since they rejected it and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, they would turn to the Gentiles (verses 45-46). To avoid the dogs and swine harming them, they left them to themselves.
A similar thing happened in Acts 18. “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue” (Acts 18:5-7 New King James Version).
The gospel Jesus has committed to us to preach is the gospel of peace (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15). If anyone or any place rejects the gospel of peace, we must leave in peace while we continue to pray to God to touch their hearts. If there is a reason to leave a place or some persons to themselves, do so. Don’t let those who don’t value what is holy or your pearls trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to be discerning and recognize dogs and swine; let me not waste my time and life with them. Lead me to souls that are ripe for salvation, not those who will trample on Your precious Word and turn and tear me to pieces. Father, protect all Your children in nations, regions, and communities where it is dangerous to be a Christian. Protect Christian communities against the hostility of enemies of the gospel.
(For about 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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