6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
The placement of this verse has always baffled me. Right after Jesus admonishes the people not to judge others and not to concentrate on the faults of others He proceeds to tell them that they need to be able to discern who the dogs and swine are. It’s really quite an extraordinary verse that I must admit I need an extra helping of the Holy Spirit to put this teaching into my own words.
While Jesus is not talking about actual food or pearls given to these animals. He uses “that which is holy” and “pearls” to signify the things of God. They are holy and precious as pearls or even gold for that matter. After describing the beauty of the Lords statutes in Psalm 19, David writes His laws are more to be desired than fine gold in verse 10. These precious things of the Lord are for His saints, for His children. They are not for the “dogs and swine”
The question has to be on our minds of who Jesus is talking about when He says dogs. The first thing that comes to my mind is that dogs are scavengers and will take anything you give them. They just sit at your feet and wait for something to drop. I have learned a lot about persistent prayer by watching my dog’s persistence and hopefulness that I will drop something when working in the kitchen. He will be thrilled with any small dropping that I might leave there on the floor. These were the words of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus told her that He was sent to the lost people of Israel and said the things of God are not for the dogs. When the Canaanite women told Him that even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Masters table, Jesus looked at her and told her she had great faith, and He granted her request. We can learn a lot about the first part of this verse from that exchange.
Jesus called this woman a dog because she was not an Israelite. She was not a child of Abraham and those are the ones Jesus was sent for. The Canaanites were believers in many Gods (Wikipedia lists over 20 gods they worshiped). The one true God was a heresy to them and they scoffed at the idea. They lived in the land that Israel came in and conquered when they came out of Egypt. Therefor God told them to destroy all the Canaanites, but Israel did not do that. The Canaanites remained in the land and were a thorn in the flesh for Israel for centuries.
So this women was indeed a heretic. The description of her as a dog shows us that Jesus does not want to give the precious word of God to someone who is defiant against the gospel message. He does not want the Light that He is offering to go to some one who will merely scoff at it and rebuke Him for His beliefs. While it is true that He gave the word to the Pharisees who also mocked Him, they were of the tribe of Israel. They were the sons of Abraham.
The lesson for us about not giving holy things to the dogs is that we should not waste our time to bring the gospel to someone who is obviously hostile toward the words we will share. With this type of person we need to befriend them and let the light that is within us show through in our lifestyle. Giving them the gospel straight up will not do any good. Becoming a part of their life and allowing them to see the joy and peace that Christ puts in our lives may!
Then there is the part about casting our pearls before swine. Remember that pigs were unclean to Israelites. They stayed away from swine completely. They did not eat the meat (No bacon!!!), nor did they raise pigs. The looked on swine as the lowest of the low. Swine love mud holes. They love to wallow in them. In hot weather a pig will cover himself with mud to keep cool. They are dirty animals. If you would cast a pearl in front of a swine he would just push it down in the dirt and not understand it’s worth. That pearl, that seed is worthless to them.
In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price that a merchant will sell everything to get. Why? Because the kingdom, like the pearl, comes to us through agony and pain from the one providing it. The oyster that produces the pearl dies while forming that pearl. Jesus died to bring the kingdom of heaven to us. The gospel is of great value!
What Jesus is saying is that we should refrain from giving the precious gospel to someone we know will just yell and scream at us for the words we say, We should not give it to someone who is obviously dead set against it. Dropping seeds is one thing. Presenting the gospel is another. We must plant seeds in people’s lives, but the best seeds are sown by our lifestyle not our words. The seeds of our lifestyles cannot be ignored while the words of our lips will not only be ignored but we will be ridiculed for them. These pigs are beyond listening to what God has to say.
Again, some are called to take the gospel to people who will mock them, ridicule them, and kill them for the words they speak. These are selected vessels that God will lead in their witness. They have given all for the gospel and are willing to lose their lives if need be. If you are called to such a mission field, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. Your task is monumental.
We all have an obligation to share the gospel if we are followers of Christ. We are to sow seed wherever we go. Some will fall on hard ground, some on rocky ground, some on weed-filled ground and some on fertile ground that will produce fruit. Most of the time we do not know where a person is on the ground spectrum. We just share what God puts in our heart. But if we know that they fall under the category of dog or swine, we must tread carefully and listen to the words of Jesus in this verse. Save that seed for someone who will benefit from it, and try to befriend the dog or the swine. That’s the way we will win them!