Epiphany 2022, Start Your Year on Sure Footing, Matthew, Day 12 of 58
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
Honestly, I wanted to pick an easier verse, but this one has always miffed me.
I read a great interpretation on this on gotquestions.org:
Dogs and pigs are metaphors for those hostile to the message of Jesus. (see 2 Peter 2:22, Prov. 26:11).
In the context of reserving judgement for God, in verses 1 – 5, and the encouragement of the Golden Rule to practice positive reciprocity (v. 12), we see an admonishment to discern when it is time to share our testimony of Jesus and when it is time to reserve it for another day. To quote the country singer Kenny Rogers, “You’ve got to know when to hold them. Know when to fold them. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”
If you ask me off the top of my head, this verse means that a lot of people won’t understand when you serve God, and pursue holiness to please God. I remember one professor at the University of Florida asking me about my career plans. I responded that wanted to be a pastor. He said something like this to me, “You have a great mind. It’s sad to see it go to waste chasing myths.” I didn’t really respond. I just said, “I hear what you are saying. Thank you for your time today.”
I wasn’t going to spend time debating him. What would have been the point? Why waste my time and energy when there would be no receptivity.
I could pray for him to change, but that would be his choice.
On the other hand, I have had good conversations with atheists or agnostics who show some receptivity to my point of view. I have listened to their bad experiences with religion or religious people, but sense there is room for dialogue, and trust the Holy Spirit might have room to show them God’s grace and mercy. They respect me. I respect them. This positive reciprocity opens the door for more conversations that may some lead to their own relationship with Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I know people are not always going to treat me nice when I say that I am a Christian. However, give me courage and discernment to know when it is time to offer my witness for you and when it is time to walk away, lest I be harmed or harm others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Image from Steve Thomason, “A Cartoonist’s Guide to the Bible”