Sometimes, we just have the solution, don’t we? We just have that moment of clarity when it all comes together. Especially after we’ve “found God”, or “met Jesus”. Not only do we have the solution, but now we have His great commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19 ESV. In this case, we’ve found the answer, Jesus Christ, and “received” a command from the Lord Himself to go tell everyone about it!! So then we run full speed to spread our Good News, fully energized by our newly found “answer” multiplied by the “command” we have to go and “make disciples for Jesus!”
So then we go out into the world, sharing our “answer” we’ve found which is going to make all their problems go away, and we are often left stunned that “they” aren’t interested in us solving their problem. We may find that they don’t even think they have a problem which needs solving. But we insist, “yes, you do have a problem, I have a wonderful answer for you, why don’t you just let me show you how it works!!” But they in turn insist, “No, I don’t have a problem! And even if I do have a problem, I don’t need no stinking answers from you!” And we walk away with hurt feelings and wounded pride on both sides, a potentially damaged relationship, and new doubts of our own about the “truth” of the “answer” we have.
Jesus warns us about this in his discussion on condemnation. “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.” Quick question – what have you always understood this passage (if you’ve heard it before) to mean? What is Jesus telling us?
Maybe it goes like this – “Some people just aren’t worthy of what we have to offer (the gospel of Jesus Christ), and we should not be wasting time giving our pearls to those “pigs”. Besides, just like Jesus said, look at ISIS, all these terrorists, we shouldn’t try to share the gospel with them, they just turn around and try to kill us anyway!!” Is this what Jesus is saying? Are there just some groups of people, the “dogs” of the world, who just aren’t worthy of what is “holy”, they are just “pigs” trying to take our pearls, stomp them into the mud, and turn against us?
Of course this is NOT what Jesus is telling us here. That would be exactly the OPPOSITE of everything Jesus ever taught. As Dallas Willard points out – “Indeed, the very coming of Christ, the pearl of God, into the world, would be a case of pearls before pigs thus understood.” Remember what the apostle John told us – “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” John 1:11 ESV. We, the entire world, are all dogs and pigs who did not receive Christ when He came into the world. He put before us what was holy, He laid all His pearls before us. And pigs that we are, we trampled His pearls underfoot and hung him from a tree, remember?
So, never forget this – ALL are worthy to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no person, no sinner, no murderer, no terrorist, who is UNWORTHY of the Good News, no person who is a dog or pig who doesn’t deserve to hear that God the Father, who made them in His own image, sent his own beloved son to the world to walk with us, teach us, advocate for us, and ultimately to die FOR us, even if it was our own hands which swung the hammer that drove in the nails.
So what does Jesus’ “pearls and pigs” have to do with our solutions for everybody else’s problems. If it’s not that those dogs and pigs are unworthy of our solutions, if it’s not somehow for our own safety and security, then what could Jesus mean?
Pigs can not digest pearls. Pearls have no nourishment for a pig. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how hard you try, that pig just is not going to get anything out of those pearls. A dog can’t feed on the holy scriptures, the cross of Christ, or any of your other solutions to the trouble they may or may not find themselves in. Of course, if we keep trying to feed animals things which they cannot digest, and otherwise leave them starving, sooner or later they will turn on you and eat you for lunch. At least you are edible to them.
All people are made in the image of God. But not all people know it. And not all people want to know it. Of course, we know that we are made in the image of God. And since we are made in the image of God, since we have discovered and believe in the way, the truth, and the life in Jesus Christ His only son, it only makes sense that the rest of the world needs to hear it. Because we know we are in the image of God, then we should do all we can to make those around us in the image of God. In other words – we should make them more like us, so they too can be in God’s image, right? We bring our solutions to them, whether they want to hear about it or not, whether they are ready or not. And we keep bringing our solutions to them, keep confronting them, even though they can not digest the “water” we are trying to pour sown their throats. It does not help them at all. In reality, what we are really trying to do is control them, using our pearls as a means of forming them to be more like us (after all, we are in Gods image!). And eventually, we are left wondering why they turned against us.
Of course, our heart is in the right place. After all, the world needs our pearls, whatever they may be. If your pearl is the Gospel, that is even the only hope of the world. But the Gospel can be hard to digest, and your pearls might be left on the ground time after time. Eventually, you might wind up on the menu.
Sometimes, our heart really is not even in the right place. Sometimes, we are really just more interested in our own ego or our own will. I’ve known people people to drive an hour and a half each way to pick up people to bring them to a one hour meeting, and the people they brought to the meeting didn’t even want to be there. They resented the effort put in, because it was not done for their benefit at all, but for the benefit of the ego of the one doing the “good work”.
I am not saying we don’t try to help people. We have that desire, and we should do all we can in the service of others. It’s kind of difficult to love those around us without being willing to help. But what matters is our approach and attitude in our endeavors to help others. Are we really trying to be of service, or are we trying to justify our selves and get that pat on the back? What is our motivation? Are we trying to help because we feel superior or because we can see how wring they are doing things? In this case, we will almost never actually be helping.
God gave every human being free will. He then came and paid a high price to arrange for that free will. It’s obviously very important to him. It’s the only way we can be the kind of personal beings he can use for eternal purposes. Earlier in this same sermon Jesus told us “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37 ESV. We are not to manipulate others with our flowery language. Just as we are not not (can not) to harass people into our kind of rightness or goodness with condemnation, or use our “pearls” to manipulate them to be in our image, as we would have them be.
“”Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. “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.”
Matthew 7:1-6 ESV