What in the world is this verse about? Dogs aren’t supposed to get hold of what is sacred? Well, of course I wouldn’t be handing Rover my Bible to chew on. No pearls for pigs? Yeah, I guess Jesus is right, pearls don’t really belong in the trough, but why would I do that in the first place?
This Verse = Sound Witnessing Advice
What Jesus is really talking about here is witnessing and teaching others about God. As Christians, we come across people every day who may or may not believe in God. If you witness to somebody who’s ready to hear about God, who is curious to know more, or who really wants to be saved, then you’re at the right place at the right time, by God’s plan, and you might well be the person who leads them to Christ. The person you witness to in this way will be grateful for your willingness to help and to teach them from what you know of God and what He’s done in your life.
Dogs and Pigs = Pharisees and Sadducees, Neither of Whom Liked Jesus
But, if you try to witness to someone who isn’t ready to hear about God or who despises God, you could get into a very heated situation very quickly. Jesus Himself dealt with several groups in His day who were hotly opposed to everything He taught. For instance, the Pharisees, Law-abiders and temple-builders that they were, were not about to let this upstart preacher start converting people over from the Law that they had kept since Moses’ day. They’d been doing sacrifices and sin offerings this way for years, and now this random guy says they aren’t needed anymore? Pah!
Not to mention the Sadducees, who refused to acknowledge any holy books except the Torah (the first five books of the modern Bible’s Old Testament). “All those books of prophecy in the latter parts of the Old Testament which talked about a coming Messiah? Nah, those aren’t canon; they aren’t true, and this Jesus guy is just another rambling fool.”
Neither group believed Jesus was the Son of God; neither group was willing to listen to anything He had to say. If He had tried to teach them directly, it would have been like “giving dogs what is sacred”–both groups would have torn His words apart without listening to the message, just like a bunch of dogs fighting over a piece of meat.
Witness Lovingly–We’re Not Trying to Meet a “Convert Quota”
If we try to witness to people who don’t agree with any of God’s teachings and aren’t ready to hear anything different, we will meet with hostility, too; people who don’t want to listen aren’t going to try, and they might even turn on us with hatred, like the pigs Jesus used as an example, if we try to force them to “get saved.” Jesus warned us about this–we can’t witness in judgmental ways because it can inflame people’s emotions, meaning that nothing constructive gets done.
We can, however, LIVE our Christian faith in front of others, and pray for those who declare that they hate God and want nothing to do with Him. God is big enough to take care of everyone, and that includes the people who don’t know or don’t want to know about Him. If we try to force God down people’s proverbial throats, we might end up throwing pearls to the pigs; if we instead love others and keep the sacred teachings in our hearts, we might just make people curious enough to want to know more.