To me, my most significant flaw (failing?) in life has been wanting others to want me… to accept me… to encourage me… even to adore me. Sure, you may not see that as a flaw, but just an insecurity, or a character quirk. Who doesn’t want to be accepted, acceptable, and included, right? Regardless of how we label it, as I have aged… as I have loved and lost… as my disappointments, heartaches, and just utter anguish mounts… the Lord showed me (and has to keep reminding me) that I am actually ‘putting my pearls before the swine’… lavishing my love, my time, my skills toward others who may not be all that prepared to know what to do with them… may not be ready to accept or understand them… may just be too distracted with life to see that their life is distracting them from truth!
I refuse to change, though. Wait… we’re supposed to be willing to change when and as the Lord directs us, right?! Sure… this is a deep, deep conviction… an inner part of my core being reminds me that I need to refuse to change. See, I take people at face value, and let them convince me otherwise… many do, some don’t. Do I get egg on my face? Uuuuhhhh… YEA!
Trusting two-faced people when you take things at face value can leave you with egg on your face. Trust me, I’ve turned all my cheeks.
— G.W. Bill Elliott Jr (@vocalbillity) December 15, 2017
So, the Lord has been gently reminding me of this passage in Matthew 7:6: 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.
Wait… I don’t think “I” am holy or some super-saint… far from it! But, many years ago, I did tweet this;
I would never consider myself holier than thou, but I certainly aim to be holier than now. The gift of salvation motivates us to grow on!
— G.W. Bill Elliott Jr (@vocalbillity) November 29, 2017
So, He has been coaching my heart… nudging my life really… and reminding me that I do have the responsibility to be careful how and where I ‘give’ of myself… how I extend and present myself… and in fact, to whom I give of myself. Parents… this is especially true of both your Children AND your own parents. Just because they are ‘family’ does not mean you give of yourself unconditionally… ever! No, they don’t have to ‘earn it’, but they should never be allowed to abuse it… to consider it ‘free’ and ever never let them ‘take you for granted’ (I said that backwards on purpose, so you’d listen!).
Now, in the religious, Christian, and Biblically Inclined world, this text is generally considered to be a warning by Jesus to his followers that they should not be offering biblical doctrine to those who are unable to ‘value’ and appreciate it (let alone use it to change their lives). In many ways, He was admonishing them to not get caught in a clumsy debate (arguing, really).
But, I rarely take the things Jesus taught His disciples as a letter-of-the-law reading… but as a spirit-of-the-law reading. I mean, Jesus DID say many times, “...he that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth“. He never EVER told us to ‘read and understand’. His communication with us almost seemed to have a way about it, like He was extending a coded message for those that “had an ear to hear“.
Now to the Pigs and Dogs references, though. Sure, the people around you are not literally pigs or dogs… wait… some of them actually ARE, huh! Nonetheless, Jesus is using a ‘base’ animal to help explain and convey the difference between His gift in you (His salvation, His love, His graciousness) and those around you. Essentially, Jesus is reminding us that we must minister with discretion, with discernment, with a ‘Spirit Led Heart’ and calling on your life.
- Would you try holding a serious, heartfelt conversation with a very drunk or drug-induced person?
- Would you give a top-choice Filet Mignon steak to a dog, regardless of the breed or pedigree?
Those both should be NO answers, right? Therein, we too should be careful… be thoughtful… and especially be sensitive to the Leading of the Holy Spirit as to how we interact, communicate, and even ‘live’ with the various encounters we have in life. Now I say ‘live’, because even the people with whom you live, or live around should still be approached with discretion… with His Spirit leading you… with His guidance. Some things you share with them just will not be understood… be heard… or even be appreciated. And, regrettably, you are teaching them to ‘tune out’ your thoughts… unwittingly, you are numbing them to the Spirit’s calling on their life! Counterproductive, right!
Now, to me… one of the other ‘hidden gems’ of this passage is with regards to the ‘because’ part of the passage. I mean, so many times Jesus tells us “don’t do this, because”, or “don’t do that, because”. Mercy… even God started life on this planet telling Adam “don’t do this, because”. Now, the end of this passage in Revelation, Jesus clarifies with, “…lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” See… no matter how much YOU care… no matter how GOOD your intentions… no matter just how sincere you are with ‘giving your gift’, those that are unreceptive… those that are unable to grasp the words, the message you are sharing with them…
…they will turn on you.
They don’t have His Spirit to help interpret. Worse, they will trample underfoot the ‘pearls’ you passed on to them… they have no discretion… they have no means by which to comprehend how heinous a thing it is they are even doing. Like ravaging dogs, they will be ruthless… not passively turning their noses up at you and simply walking away from you. No… REND you! Vicious, heartless, mindless, and it will tear you apart.
Wait… let’s quickly look at all this from the Pig’s point of view. I mean, again your intentions are good, your heart is right, you even approach them with utter care and concern… you may have spent YEARS preparing for this very thing. But, for a moment or two, let’s imagine you are trying to “put lipstick on a pig”, or even trying to “teach a pig to sing”, as the whimsical sayings go. Sure, to put “lipstick on a pig” is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product or person (see; WikiPedia). Likewise, you should never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig!
Sure, until this point it would seem I am setting the stage to tell you that you should never witness, never share your life with others, never reach out to help those around you. NO… just ‘be careful’… be ‘in the Spirit’… be sensitive to God’s leading in the matter. How? HA! Not sure if you’ve read other of my stories, but there isn’t a ‘formula’ for all of this. There is not a “steps to reproduce” guide. There IS encouragement from God’s word as to how to handle yourself… to bolster your life… to be prepared.
Over in 1 Peter 3:15, it states; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. See? They ASK you! They noticed something different about you… they observed your actions… they’ve “witnessed your witness”, and you haven’t said a word!
Be Ready Always
This passage doesn’t say ‘seek them out and make them understand’. It is a message to you that you should just ‘be ready’… be prepared… be poised for action. Now, that takes time… that takes patience… that certainly takes self-control (know when to speak and when to be silent). As the Lord’s blessing on you grows… as His grace moves in your life… as you mature and begin ‘living’ His love and not telling it… others will see… they will notice, and ultimately, they will ask you the reason of the hope that is within you. THEN you are clear to share.. clear to demonstrate… clear to let God share His grace in you… with them! See… now they are open and receptive… that are inquiring… they are curious… they are seeking!
See?? You should not just spray the people around with God’s grace… with His message.. with His mercy. Love is the critical key and love is patient… love is kind… love is long-suffering… love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and even more important… endures all things. 1 Cor 13:1 actually states, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” That whole ‘tinkling cymbal’ thing is just what is meant by the “casting your pearls before the swine” passage… we must be discrete… careful… patient and most certainly, “led by His Spirit” for when to speak and what to speak!
What? Refrain from telling others of this great hope?
No… be sensitive, be ready, be careful… but, certainly, be led of His Spirit. In fact, in a similar passage of Luke Chapter 21, Jesus is encouraging the disciples about the pending ‘persecution’ and rejection they will experience. Even their very mothers and fathers will turn against them. But, He admonishes them to not ‘prepare’ what they will say or do… He merely tells them (v14-15), “14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.“
See… just because ‘we’ have His grace… just because ‘we’ have been redeemed… just because ‘we’ have experienced this deep hope and peace from God, not everyone can comprehend what you are trying to convey to them…. they cannot grasp the brevity of your passion. Sure, they can see and hear that you ARE serious, and that you are passionate, and that you are even making a great argument/presentation of God’s love for them… but, even the Bible states; “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44.
So, please keep in mind that it is the Lord who sets the stage for your witnessing… your ministry… your communication with those around you and we must be cautious with tossing His ‘gifts’ upon us, toward others (pearls before the swine).
One of the key reasons we need to be careful with approaching those around us as though we are on a marketing campaign is that they ‘catch the fever’ and logically see and understand why they should be involved with God… get ‘on fire’ for the Lord… be a better person… and all those “it must be right, because it is for good” things. These can be a bad reason for them to ‘come to the Lord’. They ‘join forces for good’, and that’s bad.
Wait… it is not always right for people to come to the Lord?
Right… not always right… not always His time… and certainly not by His calling, His leading, and His Spirit convicting them of their SIN! See?? We can’t convince people of all the reasons TO follow the Lord. They have to be led of His Spirit, convicted of their sin, redeemed and made holy. In fact, there is a growing number of people who perform just like Christians, they actually do MORE than your average ‘saint’ in the church… in life… in Jesus’ name, in fact! But, they are NOT God’s children.
Right… read this, Matt 7:22-23 “22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.“
See? Jesus doesn’t even seem to account that they wanted to be good… they wanted to ‘do the right thing’… they yearned to help… seems like the Jesus would recognize that and maybe just tell them, “go to the back of the line in Heaven”. Rather… He tells them to ‘get away from me, for you are working INIQUITY… I never knew you“. WHAT? Wait… they knew Him, how could He not know them?
Please pause on this in YOUR life… please pray on this for you and your ‘being’ in His work through your life. Check your spirit, ensure you’re being led of His Spirit in the matters of your life. The whole, “yea, but I am helping others” doesn’t favor with God! Therein, “casting our pearls before the swine” is one of the things that motivates them for the wrong reason.
“The need never justifies the calling”
Do remember that, if nothing else. Do NOT get a ‘vision’ for some work… for some cause… or even find a cause or a work that needs you… without getting God’s calling on you for that vision, cause, or work! Be LED by the Spirit, not asking the Spirit to bless your lead.
The gifts the Lord has passed on to you… the gifts he still has in store for you… His good grace over your life is NOT meant to quickly turn and dump it all over those around you. Sure… “give and it shall be given unto you“, and “your cup runneth over” with His grace, or even just “freely you have received, freely give“. The Bible tells us we are to walk ‘circumspectly’ in this world. That is a cautious, determined, and calculated series of steps… movement on this earth… with a strategy, with a tender and delicate manner, with His guidance.