I went to sleep praying for an image that might speak to someone and this one might only be for me, but I doubt it. All I kept hearing as I prayed was pearls before swine, and yes I know it’s a little literal, but there is more to this one than meets the eye. It comes from Matthew 7:6 which says, “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.” To me this one has to do with arguments especially over matters of faith.
Before I go any further, let me say this. I do not think people who disagree with me, especially on matters of faith are pigs, or dogs, or anything of the sort. No this is more about whether or not people have ears to hear, at least in this expression. Have you ever had an argument with someone and you know beyond a doubt you’re at an impasse? The other person at this point is not ready to receive your point of view and you are not going to concede yours. At this point you have two choices. You can either a) keep arguing in hopes that you can beat their argument into submission, or you can b) love them and move on to someone who may actually want to hear what you have to say. I’ve seen so many of these bouts over controversial topics on social media and I regret to say more than once I have stayed in these conversations for far too long and it goes nowhere.
The pearls before swine illustration, to me, is about the fact that you are squandering valuable time to fight a losing battle. The person is not ready to receive what you have at this point and it is time to offer your pearls to someone who might receive them with joy. This is essential in matters of faith. If a person is not ready to receive what you have to say, no amount of argument is likely to sway them. If no one comes to the Lord who isn’t drawn by the Spirit, continuing this fight is actually detrimental to everyone involved. Better to continue to love the person and trust God to bring the breakthrough. People aren’t often fought or argued into faith. Usually they’re loved into faith.
But I said there’s more to this picture. It’s subtle but it was very clear that the pig needed to be wearing the pearls he was destroying. This to me represents when people already have God’s truth, but do not want to submit to it. It is really tempting to want to spar with these people as well, and perhaps sometimes we should, but I’m of the belief that the majority of the time, they will not be brought to the truth, without divine intervention, so it’s better to pray than fight and that when we do feel led to make a stand against their teaching that we do it carefully, out of the public eye and with gentleness and respect. First of all I mention privately, because much of the time the general public (our mission field) will not understand all the things we’re discussing. All it will look like is argumentative Christians fighting over things they might think are nonsense. Jesus said they will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another and these arguments don’t often look very loving. Secondly it is imperative that we remain loving regardless. When we are dealing with false teaching, etc. from other believers, we are trying to bring a loved one back to the truth.
When I consider this point, I am always reminded of 2 Timothy 2:3 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. This is exactly what we want to avoid. I even created this little strip below that you can print out and attach to your computer in case you are ever tempted to get into this stuff on line.
I want to close this post with a quote attributed to Mark Twain which I think sums it all up. He said, “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” It’s always wise to choose your words carefully and pick your battles. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing, but if you must speak, speak the truth in love.