In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘Use Good Judgement’.
Surely there’s a limit
As Christians, we can easily make the mistake of believing that we are to give, give and give again. That the only way to show the love of God is to allow people to keep taking from us. But I’m sure we all know people who, if we allow them, would literally bleed us dry. For some more than others it’s difficult to say the word ‘No’. And for others difficult to know when to say it. We feel it would be un-Christian to refuse somebody, something – everybody, anything. But surely there is a limit somewhere? We’ve covered the subject of ‘find your rest’. Jesus told the disciples to come away from the people for a while to rest and refresh themselves, surely the demands of the people were still knocking on the door as they set sail for their mountain retreat.
“Do not give that which is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, for they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,” Mathew 7:6. What exactly did Jesus mean by this? Use good judgement!
People who despise sacred things
Jesus clearly called some people dogs and pigs – these represent those people who despise sacred things. In the Old Testament dogs were to be thrown meat that was considered unclean to eat and were often left to eat up the carcass of the enemies that had been killed in the city. But certain people are compared with dogs – the leaders of Israel who had turned away from God. Isaiah 56:10-12 Israel’s watchmen are blind, They are all without knowledge. They are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; Panting, lying down, they love to slumber. And the dogs are greedy; never having enough. They are shepherds who have no understanding; They have all turned to their own way, Each one to his unlawful gain, without exception. “Come,” [they say,] “let us get wine, and let us fill ourselves with strong drink; And tomorrow will be like today, very great indeed.
People who like to impose the legalistic standard on others are also termed ‘dogs’ ‘Look out for the dogs, look out for the troublemakers, look out for the false circumcision [those who claim circumcision is necessary for salvation], Philippians 3:2.
Those who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven
Revelation 22:15 tells us who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven – ‘Outside are the dogs [the godless, the impure, those of low moral character] and the sorcerers [with their intoxicating drugs, and magic arts], and the immoral persons [the perverted, the molesters, and the adulterers], and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying (deception, cheating).
Swine or pigs were considered unclean to eat throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament Jesus sent the demons to reside in pigs after casting them out of the man of the Gadarenes.
Do not spend much time among them
Henry says – It is not everyone that is fit to be rebuked. Do not give that which is holy to the dogs. The reference is those who, after having the gospel preached to them, go on to blaspheme it and persecute the preachers. (Acts 13:41 Therefore be careful, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets does not come upon you: ‘Look, you mockers, and marvel, and perish and vanish away; For I am doing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, even if someone describes it to you). Do not spend much time among them, for it would be lost labour, but instead turn to others.
Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about giving instructions, counsels, and rebukes, even more so comforts, to hardened scorners. It will certainly do no good, for they will be exasperated and rage at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will feel aggrieved by it as if you threw a stone at him. Reproofs will be called insults, as they were (Luke 11:45 One of the lawyers [an expert in the Mosaic Law] answered Him, “Teacher, by saying this, You insult us too!) (Jer. 6:10 To whom shall I (Jeremiah) speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed [absolutely deaf to God] And they cannot listen. The word of the Lord has become a reprimand and an object of scorn to them; They have no delight in it).
Good counsel are a pearl of great price
Therefore do not give to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things. Good counsel and rebuke are a holy thing, a pearl of great price. They are ordinances of God, they are precious. As an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov. 25:12). A wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps. 141:5 Let the righteous [thoughtfully] strike (correct) me—it is a kindness [done to encourage my spiritual maturity]. It is [the choicest anointing] oil on the head; Let my head not refuse [to accept and acknowledge and learn from] it). It is a tree of life (Prov. 3:18 She (wisdom) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is everyone who holds her tightly).
Among the generation of the wicked, there are some that have arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that they are looked upon as dogs and swine. They are impudently and notoriously vile having so long walked in the way of sinners that they professedly hate and despise instruction. They are irrecoverably and irreclaimably wicked. Like dogs returning to their vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire.
Who shall heal and help them?
Reproofs of instruction to these expose the reprover to all the contempt and mischief that may be expected from dogs and swine. One can expect nothing other than that they will trample the reproofs under their feet, in scorn of them, and rage against them. For they are irritated by control and contradiction to their thought-patterns. They will turn again and tear the reprovers. They will tear up their good names with their insults, returning them wounding words for their healing ones and persecute them. This is the evidence of men being a dog and swine. Those who hate reproofs and reprovers, and fly in the face of those who, in kindness to their souls, show them their sin and danger.
Who shall heal and help those that will not be healed and helped? It is plain that God has determined to destroy such. The rule here is given that the gospel must not continue to be proclaimed to those who are openly wicked and profane. Lest holy things be rendered contemptible, and unholy persons further hardened. We must be very cautious whom we condemn as dogs and swine, and not do it until after trial, and with full evidence. Many a patient is lost, by being thought to be so, who, if some means had been used, might have been saved. As we must beware of calling the good, bad so we must beware of calling the bad, desperate – by judging all the wicked to be dogs and swine.
Our Lord Jesus is very tender for the safety of His people and would not have them needlessly expose themselves to the fury of those that will turn and insult them. Let them not be so overly good to some, so as to destroy themselves.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Only by preaching the gospel
So then in much do-gooding to the ‘poor’ which are often in our nation those who are caught up in or have chosen a lifestyle that makes them poor, we need to exercise discernment. How to distinguish who are the dogs and pigs? Only by preaching the gospel to them will we know and witness their reaction. Do they revile teachings about altering their choices? As Henry says ‘Those who hate reproofs and the reprovers’. Those who are presented with a way that is contrary to their own choices. But the key is in preaching the gospel to whosoever. To do the ‘go’ into the world proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. Kindness alone will never win a soul, but the hearing of the gospel and the appropriate response will.
The Pearl of great price (Matt 13:45) The surrender of self The joyful sacrifice; Have you found it, my friend The pearl of great prize? The happy merchant His mind in a whirl Goes and sells all he had To buy that great pearl. But even the pearl Will one day Like all earthly treasures Fade away. Are you truly happy? Can you joyfully sing? Have you surrendered all Or are you hanging onto something? The pearl of great value Have you found it my friend? Do you joy in that new beginning That can know no end? The carnal mind of itself Cannot begin to see What it means to give away all And follow Me. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, help me be obedient to the call to share your gospel with whosoever will listen. Help me discern those who are open Your Word and to be willing to invest my time in them. May I be emptied of myself and full of You that I cannot help but share what You have given to Me even in the face of persecution. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.