Matthew 7:6 (ESV) – 6 “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.
Have you ever felt like your hard work was wasted or unappreciated? Most people have been there. You sweat, toil, give your best effort on a project only to be met with a shoulder shrug and an “eh?” by the people around you. Jesus must have felt the frustration of that constantly. Though he was the Son of God, the religious elite judged him harshly, the masses only wanted to see the next great miracle from him as though he was a magician, and his disciples vacillated between faithful dopes and outright idiots.
In Matthew 7, Jesus has been delivering the Sermon on the Mount and has just told his listeners not to judge lest they be judged – to take the log out their own eyes before removing the speck from a friends, and then he lays out what is probably a general proverbial statement about not giving the best to those who won’t appreciate it. “Don’t cast your pearls before swine,” he says. But when I read this I kind of laugh, because it is coming from a man who does just that. Jesus gave profound messages about sacrifice and people left him as a weirdo. The religious teachers who should have been able to recognize his brilliance and love only scorned his power. Jesus gave everything he had even unto death, and yet his closest followers rejected him, ran away like cowards… Talk about casting your pearls before swine…
And then I think of myself. How often do I, by my actions or apathy, reject the goodness of God? How often do I live out of my own selfishness when it is only because of Jesus Christ that I have anything of real value? I know of the holiness, righteousness, mercy, grace, purity, and love of God. I know he applied those things to me in Christ Jesus. I know they are the greatest and most precious gifts, and yet I treat them as ho-hum, mundane syllogisms to be appropriated intellectually but not in action. I am the dog.
While this is the shortest of the Lenten readings, it is the most convicting because it reminds me that on too many occasions I am the pig. This isn’t about someone else or some nameless scapegoat group of “those immoral people over there.” It is about me. So, I must repent and let go of the idol of my vanity and self-importance and run headlong into the glorious and terrifying gifts of the Master. I must get out of the mud and go to Jesus.
Father, forgive my weakness, self-centeredness and pride. Help me to be grateful for the holy pearls of your love and salvation, and enable me to live out that gratitude in everything I say, think, feel, and do. In Christ’s name. AMEN.