“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (ESV)
Crucial teaching that we all must heed: The principle of when to, and when not to proclaim the truth of God to certain other people.
- The Meaning of the Metaphor
Both wild dogs and pigs were considered unclean by first century Jews in Palestine.
Jews used the term ‘unclean’ to describe those apart from or enemies of Israel’s covenant community, e.g. Goliath (1 Sam. 17:43), also Prov. 26:11.
Pigs, like dogs were probably scavengers.
They saw these people as defiling holy and precious things.
Dogs may turn and attack you, and pigs may trample on your pearls.
Jesus described the possible reaction we might get when sharing the Truth with people. The Lord Jesus said it is pointless to share the Gospel with people who would attack you. It is also pointless to share the Gospel with people who do not appreciate it.
If people whom you think is a believer respond like dogs and pigs when you truly applied Mat. 7:3-5 then we must doubt their salvation. We must not assume that people are truly saved if they profess to be.
- Application of the Principle to Believers
There will be times that false professors will respond negatively to the Gospel (Mat. 7:15, 21‑23). Jesus calls the false professors of faith wolves, but we may just as well see them as dogs and pigs (Mat. 18). When people stop listening to the truth we must cease trying to bring the Gospel across (Prov. 9:6). The application is how we respond to correction – not to avoid the consequences, but to address the cause.
Those who don’t respond to their sin in humility and real repentance reveal that they are trampling the pearls of truth underfoot.
How do we respond to correction from the Word of God? We need to trust the Lord to continuously give us repentant hearts so that we will not be like those who become hardened to the truth (2 Peter 2:20-22).
People who make no profession of faith needs to hear the holy Gospel – the Truth that: Jesus died and rose again according to the Old and New Testaments and that He lives as Lord and Saviour; that He promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all those who repent and believe. It is the only thing that is holy in this world. Anything that is not cleansed by the Gospel is contaminated and filthy.
- Application of the Principle to Unbelievers
It is clear that unbelievers also fit the description of dogs and pigs, e.g. Paul’s description of the Judaisers (Phil. 3:2).
Jesus taught that there is a point when we must stop trying to teach the Gospel to unbelievers (Mat. 10:14; 15:7-14), as did the Apostles (Act 13:49-51; Acts 18:5-6).
Such people are blinded to the truth of the Gospel.
Jesus did not save us because we are so cute, but for the likes of sinners like us.
We have to be witnessing and sharing, but know when enough is enough.
We have to be sharing the Gospel before we can know when to draw the line.
We must care enough for our fellow believers to confront their sin.
The Gospel is holy, pearls that we must safeguard against the dogs and pigs, but not in a loveless spirit – in a way that makes us judgmental, while we are walking around with planks in our eyes. May God give us wisdom and courage to be faithful to our calling to share the Good News to all people. Such faithfulness can only come through a close walk with God that is continually dependent upon Him through prayer. Only as we prayerfully seek to be faithful to His Word can we be sure that He will grant us the wisdom to know when to and when not to share the Truth.