Summary: Sermon 16 in a study in the Sermon on the Mount
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
I remember my dad telling about a dream he had once. He was walking in a residential neighborhood and approached a gate that led to the rear yard of a house. I don’t know if in his dream he was conscious of a reason for being there, but he said that he could see a large black dog at the far end of the yard. He could also see the dog’s run marked by the limit his length of chain would let him go, so my dad felt safe to enter through the gate and go around to the back door of the house.
He said he opened the gate, walked about 10 feet into the yard, then realized that the chain was not hooked to the dog’s collar. As the dog began to charge my dad turned to run and got back out the gate just before the growling, snapping dog could reach him.
Now I don’t know if he ever figured out the reason for that dream. Its obvious lesson is, never enter the rear yard of a strange house where there’s a big black dog.
He did provide me with a story to begin this sermon though, so if he never made use of the dream at least I now have.
I’ll see if I can make application of that illustration somewhere; the main reason I started with it is because I’m trying to get a handle on what this verse is all about and just felt I should start with a ‘mean dog’ story.
WHAT ABOUT NOT JUDGING?
I guess the first thing we should do is anticipate the question that will surely arise in the minds of some: “Didn’t Jesus just say not to judge?” And secondly, “What about the whole speck/log/eye ‘thing’ which He just said in verse 5?”
Well to answer the first question I’ll just remind you of what was said in the previous sermon. We must make discerning judgments concerning the people around us who we know are not believers or at least do not manifest Christian behavior, so we can lovingly give them the gospel.
We also must use Spirit-led discernment in the church in reference to the teaching we’re hearing and the kinds of behaviors we might witness that are not Christ-like, so potential problems can be dealt with. Now that’s a loaded statement but we’re going to be covering the topic in more detail as we move through this chapter.
We said that the judgment Jesus was warning against was a condemning sort of judgmentalism of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You may remember we also noted that in telling us to remove our own logs before we presume to help another with his speck, there was the implication that once we’ve examined our self and dealt with the impurities and inconsistencies in our own heart we might view our brethren with a great deal more compassion and a great deal less scrutiny.
Now we know that this is not just an isolated statement that Jesus pulled out of the air somewhere as a sidebar or an afterthought. So we take note of what has been said and break it down to this progressive admonition:
Don’t be going around among the brethren, ruining reputations and relationships with harsh condemnation, judging the worth of other Christians based on your own sin-tainted view and assessment of them.
Instead, seek to have your own hypocrisy dealt with and be sure your own relationship with the Lord is what it ought to be, and make sure your relationship with your fellow believers is what it ought to be.
Once done, then you will be prepared to make the proper discernments that will help you obey the injunction of verse 6 in a Godly manner.
WHO ARE THE DOGS AND PIGS?
Now if we are to know who we are not supposed to give holy things to and who we’re supposed to withhold our pearls from we first have to figure out who the dogs and pigs are.
Sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it?
When I was in my Jr High and High School years I read all of the “CONAN the Barbarian” stories by Robert E. Howard.
I don’t remember what story this was in, but at one point Conan, meaning to insult some thug who was acting badly in a small tavern, said “Where I come from we lock our dogs outside the city gates at night so they don’t defile our houses”. And of course, the fight was on.
I don’t think Jesus intended for us to go around calling people dogs. In fact, I’m certain of that. And we’re not to consider them dogs because they’re misbehaving. We’re supposed to have a Christ-like heart toward the unsaved and not take offense at them but try to get the gospel to them when possible.