Summary: Discerning how to recognize and respond to people who treat the gospel and its messengers with disdain or contempt.
The Danger of Feeding Dogs and Pigs
August 7, 2005
Have you ever come across a verse or passage in Scripture that when you look at it, it just kinda makes you scratch your head and go, "Huh?" It’s okay, you can be honest.
Well, our passage today is one of those for me. I’ve read it before, many times in my 20+ years in being a follower of Jesus, but quite honestly, haven’t given it much attention before, because I couldn’t figure it out.
But preaching through this book has caused me to really study this like I’ve never done before. And I think that’s a good thing, how about you?
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at the issue of judging - should we do it, how to do it in a way that does not put us in the same league as the Pharisees and religious hypocrites, and even how to be a bad judge.
And we spent a good deal of time looking at the first five verses of Matthew 7, where Jesus talks about judging, and making sure the log is out of your own eye before trying to clean out the speck from someone else’ eye.
And then comes this verse:
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."
I’m of the opinion that Jesus had a purpose for everything he said. And he had a purpose for when he said it. In other words, I think Jesus said these words at this point in the sermon on the mount for a reason - they are connected somehow to his previous words.
And the task for today is show you that connection so we can better apply his words, especially in context with what Jesus just said about judging.
Because you see, the Bible isn’t just a collection of wise, religious sayings. It is a cohesive collection of books that describe the teachings of God, and how they impact the lives of his people. And so it’s very important that we look this verse in context.
So today I want us to look at three questions to help us grasp this passage. And my intention in addressing this is to help us become people of discernment - people of good judgment, especially as it relates to sharing the life-saving and life-changing news of Jesus Christ.
So let’s start by looking at the first question:
Who are the dogs and pigs?
Before I get into discussing just who Jesus was referring to, I want to take a moment to look at his choice of words.
The dogs and pigs of Jesus’ time were not quite what we think of today. We’re not talking Lassie and Miss Piggy here!
For instance, dogs weren’t the nice, domesticated puppies many of us have at home. In fact, no one kept dogs as pets then. The dogs of Jesus’ day were wild, feeding on garbage and road kill. And this is still the case for most of the dogs in the Middle East.
Dogs and pigs were viewed with contempt and repulsion, especially in the days of the Bible.
Pigs were considered unclean, and the ancient Jews were forbidden to eat them. No self-respecting Jew would go anywhere near a pig.
So knowing that background, what can we learn about the people Jesus is describing in this verse?
The first thing we can learn is that this passage is not about unbelievers in general.
There have been people in the past, who feel that Jesus was discussing all those people outside the family of God - unbelievers, and that this verse is a directive to not evangelize those who need Jesus.
But that’s not the case. All throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, we are told that God loves everyone and wants all to come to know Him.
So who is he talking about? Well, based on this verse, I think we can see that the people Jesus is describing, these dogs and pigs, exhibit two main characteristics:
1. Treat the gospel with scorn and contempt.
"...they may trample them under their feet..."
You know, I’m just enough of an optimistic person that I think that most everyone who hears about Jesus would be glad. Know what I mean?
I mean, think about it. Who wouldn’t want to hear that their sins can be forgiven, no matter what and no matter how often, and that they can have a home in heaven for eternity instead of paying for sins in hell?
What’s not to like about that? Well, judging from the responses I’ve received from some people, plenty!