Matthew 7:6 -Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (NASB)
In Matthew chapter seven Jesus gives us the balance between right judgment and wrong judgement. We are to show humility in Spirit, and yet display power of Spirit. Taking the speck out of your brother’s eye first begins by removing the log that is in your own eye (Matthew 7:5). We are to first confess our own sin so we can clearly see the sin in our brother’s eye, and therefore help him remove it. Clear vision begins by removing our own hindered vision. Fuzzy vision is usually caused by the timber of the log that is jammed in our own eye.
Then Jesus gives a striking illustration about casting what is holy and precious to dogs and pigs. Keep in mind that the beginning of chapter seven Jesus is dealing with judgement; good judgement and bad judgement. Context is vital when interpreting scripture.
So who are the dogs and who are the swine? Keeping what is holy and precious from being trampled first begins by examining who to keep it from.
I am a first time dog owner. I still call him a puppy and treat him like a child. It’s quite sad considering that I use to despise pets, but then I got married and I apparently turned to mush. You’ll understand one day if you’re not married. Yet in Biblical times dogs were not used as pets. They were actually despised and looked down upon. Unless you kept a dog to help shepherd your flock you had no need for a dog. Dogs were wild, dirty, vicious and would eat anything they could find. Dogs at that time period were scavengers and diseased. These were not the days of immunization shots, kennels and squeaky toys. Dogs were vile. Keep that in mind when Jesus called the Syrophoenician woman a dog (Mark 7:25-30).
A dog was not fit to be a partaker of what was holy. The sacrifice that burned upon the altar was not to even be shared with dogs. What ever the priest did not eat or take to his family, was burned up. We give our dogs the scraps from the table, but that was unthinkable to a Jew. (Again, go to Mark 7:25-30 and be reminded about Jesus’ words).
Holy things are not for the profane. The dog would not have appreciated the holy, sacred things of God. It would have simply gnarled them, and swallowed them without even a thought about its taste or goodness. A dog will return to its own vomit, the very substance that made it sick, and swallow it (2 Peter 2:22).
Swine were considered unclean animals under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11-8). No ham, bacon and no barbecue pork. The pig was a stench in the nostrils of Jews. Swine were not domesticated, like the dog. The pig was vile, dirty, unruly and greedy. They too would eat anything that came before their snout. If you were to get in the way of a pig and its food, it could turn on your and tear you to pieces.
The issue that Jesus was presenting was not another discourse on what was unclean and not to be eaten. Far from it. The circumstance was putting what was holy and precious before something, or someone who could not appreciate it. What was holy and sacred was to be shared with proper judgment. We are not to judge (Matt. 7:1), but we can use good judgment.
This is a hard saying indeed. We want to share the Gospel with everyone. But not everyone will believe the Gospel. Some will absolutely despise anything holy and pure. They have no regard for the precious truths of God’s Word.
“Count not men to be dogs or swine; but when they avow themselves to be such, or by their conduct act as if they were such, do not put occasions in their way for displaying their evil character. Saints are not to be simpletons; they are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools. Great King, I need thee, not to only open my mouth, but also at times to keep it shut!” – Charles Spurgeon