Matthew 7:6 (NIV) reads, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6 includes an interesting warning from Jesus to his disciples about the danger of sharing spiritual truths with those who are not ready or willing to receive them.
The Importance of Discernment:
In Matthew 7:6, Jesus tells his disciples not to cast their pearls before swine or give what is holy to dogs. This admonition highlights the importance of discernment in our interactions with others. As Jewish scholar David Flusser notes, “The ‘pearls’ and ‘holy things’ here represent the spiritual teachings and wisdom that Jesus and his disciples were sharing with surrounding Galilee. This passage warns against wasting these valuable gifts on those who are unworthy or who will not appreciate their worth.”
The Limits of Evangelism:
This verse also shows that not everyone is receptive to the message of the gospel. In his commentary on this passage, scholar Craig Keener observes that “casting pearls before swine” was a common Jewish proverb that referred to wasting something valuable on those who would not appreciate it. In the context of Jesus’ ministry, this warning serves as a reminder that even he was not able to convert everyone he encountered. As Keener notes, “Jesus’ warning here does not discourage evangelism but cautions against naively thinking that everyone will accept the gospel.” Keener goes on to say, “The image of casting pearls before swine may also suggest that one should not be surprised if some react violently to the message, in line with other evidence of first-century Jewish missionary experience (e.g., Acts 13:50; 14:19; 17:5-8). In any case, these verses reflect Jesus’ concern that his disciples not waste their resources and energies on those who will not appreciate them.”
The Call to Wisdom:
Finally, Matthew 7:6 emphasizes the importance of wisdom in our interactions with others. In his commentary on this passage, Jewish-Christian scholar Michael Brown notes that “the warning against casting pearls before swine is a call to use wisdom in our evangelism and discipleship efforts.” As believers, we are called to share the truth in a way that is sensitive to the spiritual needs and concerns of those around us. We should not force our message upon others, but rather, present it with love and humility, trusting that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts according to God’s timing and purpose. Although our witness may be rejected at times, we can take comfort in the fact that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). We can have faith that the seeds we plant through our words and actions will grow and bear fruit, even if we cannot see the results right away.
Matthew 7:6 serves as a reminder of the importance of discernment, the limits of evangelism, and the call to wisdom in our interactions with others. As Jewish-Christians, we are called to share the gospel message with love, humility, and a deep dependence on God’s guidance and grace. May we always seek to honor the holy things that God has given us, and to use them for his glory and the good of others.
Questions to Ponder:
- How can we discern when it is appropriate to share spiritual truths with others?
- What are the limits of evangelism, and how can we approach sharing the gospel message in a way that is sensitive to others’ needs and concerns?
- How can we grow in wisdom as we seek to share the gospel message with those around us?
- What are some practical steps we can take to honor the holy things God has given us and use them for his glory and the good of others?
- Flusser, David. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007.
- Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. InterVarsity Press, 2014.
- Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Volume 3: Messianic Prophecy Objections. Baker Books, 2003.
- “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them underfoot and turn and maul you.” (Matthew 7:6, NIV)
- “A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.” (Proverbs 15:12, NIV)
- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV)