ODJ: pearls to pigs

February 14, 2013 

READ: Matthew 7:1-6 

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you (v.6).

I have always been perplexed by today’s reading in Matthew 7. What are these “pearls” being spoken of and who are the “pigs” we’re not to throw them to?

One suggestion is that the pearl is the kingdom of God (see 13:45), and so a common explanation of this verse goes like this: There’s a beastly group of people for whom the gospel is not to be shared. They will only trample on our good news and, by doing so, cheapen it.
This explanation has never sat well with me. Firstly, Jesus isn’t teaching the apostles whom to preach to (He’ll do that in Matthew 10). He’s talking to the “crowds” about living in the kingdom (4:23-5:1, 7:24-29). How would this phrase help them do that? Secondly, Jesus has already taught that God is gracious to the unrighteous (5:43-48), and all of us are “unholy”, yet God still offered the gospel to us. Thirdly, Jesus said these words after teaching us not to condemn people (7:1-5). What do His words mean in this relational context?
I think Jesus is talking about correction here. Followers of Jesus will have disagreements with others. We’re not to condemn people (vv.1-2), or be blind to our own faults (vv.3-4), but we’re to bring humble correction when needed (v.5). But Jesus is realistic. There will be some who will not listen to any correction—even when the words are from God Himself. As Matthew 7:1-6 says, such people will repay correction with abuse. They will tear us to pieces (v.6). Beware of them.
As I write this article, I’m dealing with a difficult commenter on my blog. This person has been writing inflammatory statements that I have tried repeatedly (and patiently) to correct. But to no avail—the harsh words continue. It may now be time for me to stop replying. —Sheridan Voysey

Read Proverbs 7:1-5 to see the wisdom Jesus is drawing from. Read Matthew 5:38-48 for other directions on dealing with difficult people.
How should you respond to people who only want to argue? How will you love such people, while putting boundaries around their abusive ways?