Casting Pearls Before Swine

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“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). Jesus made this statement in His great Sermon on the Mount. But what does this verse mean?

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His disciples to be kind, courteous, loving and compassionate to others. However, He also taught that His disciples are to be good stewards of their time and of the Gospel. When Jesus made this statement about casting pearls before swine, He was using language that illustrates the importance of stewardship.

Think for a moment about one of the most precious possessions you have. It may be a piece of jewelry, an heirloom of the family, or some other treasured item. Now imagine taking that item and tossing it into a pen full of hogs. Would the hogs place the same value on your cherished possession as you do? No, rather than esteeming your treasured item, the hogs would trample it in the mud. Hogs simply do not recognize the high value of precious or sacred things.

When Jesus spoke of pearls, He was speaking of that which people highly esteem. There is something, however, that is more precious than pearls—that is, the Gospel of Christ. Jesus knew that there would be some people who would be so carnally-minded they would not appreciate the riches of the Gospel. Some have made up their minds that they will not believe and obey Christ. To expend time and resources in offering God’s Word to such people would be like offering “pearls to swine.” There comes a time when proper stewardship demands that we “shake the dust off our feet” and move on to hearts which are more receptive to the Gospel (cf. Acts 13:49-51).

Christ’s followers must never use the “pearls-and-swine-teaching” as an excuse not to help or to teach others. Jesus instructed His disciples to “preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Nevertheless, this is the same Jesus who also warned about allowing hogs to trample precious pearls. It is not always easy to distinguish between those who truly are interested in doing God’s will and those who are not. Therefore, God’s people should pray for wisdom in making such distinctions.

Mark Lindley
Chapman church of Christ
Ripley, MS

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