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Matthew 7:6:  “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.”


In Matthew 7:1-5, part of Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount, the Lord tells us not to judge others in the sense of looking down on them and also implies that we should not criticize others for sins that we ourselves may be guilty of. We should be living rightly first, and when we call out sin in others, we are to do it in love, not condescension. In contrast to those first verses, verse 6 seems to be shocking. Jesus was making a reference to the familiar in order to make a point, that although we should not be judgmental, we should use discernment in dealing with people.


The dogs Jesus is referring to here are not the ones which were kept as family pets. Instead, He was referring to packs of wild scavenger dogs which caused problems with the peoples’ livestock. The swine was a ceremonially unclean animal and was understood as such, especially since a lot of his audience members were Jewish. What comparison, then, was Christ making here? He was comparing the nature of some people—yes, people—to the nature of these wild beasts.


We know even in modern times that scavenger dogs—strays running in packs—can be dangerous or even deadly. They get into our garbage; kill animals such as cats and other dogs, some of which are beloved pets; and may even attack people, maiming or killing them. In Biblical times these animals were just as bad. I noted above how they caused livestock issues. These wild dogs would maim or kill, eat or dismember, farm animals.

 And think about pigs (swine). It is in their nature to dwell in filth. They love to wallow in the mud, and they eat voraciously. Swine can also be extremely dangerous. Anyone who has encountered or hunted wild boars knows this. Even domesticated pigs can be deadly. There have been cases where people have been murdered by being tossed into hog pens and eaten alive. By using such menacing animals as an illustration, Jesus was making the point that there are people out there who are so hardened in sin that presenting the things of God to them could result in ridicule, harm, or even death. These were people to be wary of.


This warning by the Lord may seem to be contradictory because we are to witness to others (Matthew 28:18-20). There is no contradiction, though. This is a word of caution. Remember, also, this Scripture:


Matthew 10:16:    “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”


This word that Jesus spoke to His twelve disciples also applies to all believers. We are indeed to go out into the world and share the Gospel with the lost. However, in doing so we must be harmless enough not to force it on anyone and wise enough to beware of those who are antagonistic. If you witness to a person and that individual starts ridiculing or becoming angry, move on. It is not worth it to continue to push the issue.


Like a dog or a swine, that person may become violently agitated and do you great harm. At the very least, he or she is so hardhearted that they have no capacity to appreciate what you are sharing with them. All they can do is debate, argue, make fun, hurl insults or threats, and so on. Just as it is a waste of time and dangerous to try to make a pet out of a wild dog or place a pearl necklace on a pig, it is a waste of time and dangerous to continue sharing the things of God with people who are of such beastly and defiled character. Pray for them, but otherwise move on. There are others God will place in your path who will gladly hear the Gospel and accept His Son as Lord and Savior. Then you will have cause to rejoice:


Psalm 126:5-6:  Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.



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