Thursday, September 11, 2008

pigs don't eat pearls

"Do not throw your pearls before swine." – Matt 7:6

Jesus doesn't want his secret service agents to be pushy – he doesn't want us to force "good things" onto the people we love, to hurl things at them that they're unable to digest. Jesus doesn't want us throwing our pearls before swine.

Now, it's not that Jesus thinks that some people are unworthy swine and don't deserve our pearls. That's not Jesus' way – he's not making a statement about some people's unworthiness. After all, the Gospel is that God's Pearl graciously embraced a world of unworthy people. Like the prodigal son, none of us are "worthy to be called [God's] son" (Lk 15:19). This is discipleship 101 – all are sick and in need of a physician. We're all sinful piglets in that sense. But that's not the sense that Jesus uses the word here.

And so Jesus' problem with pearl-pushing isn't one of worthiness. For Jesus, pearl-pushing is an issue of helpfulness. Jesus wants his disciples to bless people with God's kingdom – not bulldoze them with their own. In other words, Jesus is saying that pigs don't value pearls. Pigs need something to digest, something that nourishes them. And pigs can't eat pearls. And so Jesus gives pearl-pushers a warning: be careful, the pigs will "turn and tear you to pieces" (Matt 7:6).

And doesn't this always happen when we force "good things" onto others? Sure, we always have "the best" intentions (please note my sarcasm). In other words, we love pearls and so we push them onto others. And in doing so, we become pushy and irrelevant. We've forgotten the truth of God's love - it "never insists on its own way" (1 Cor 13:5).

FOR TODAY: Consider your closest relationships. Are you nagging anyone, or being "pushy" about something? If so, consider what it means for Jesus' disciples to be salt and light – to preserve and to illumine. To do this well, we need to trust that our heavenly Father knows everyone else's needs a whole lot better than we do. We can pray for them. We can love them. We can "restore them in a spirit of gentleness" (Gal 6:13). But we can't throw our pearls before them and expect to be any help at all.


KAM said...

Happy Birthday, John.

Bill G. said...

John, keep up the good work, I really enjoy your blog!