What does it mean, “do not cast your pearls before swine”?

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Don’t cast your pearls before swine

The command “do not cast your pearls before swine” is found in the sermon on the Mount.  Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6). The word “holy” is a reference to offerings or sacrifices brought to the Temple and consecrated to sacred use. The Mishnah says, “We are not allowed to redeem dedicated [animals] in order to give them to the dogs to eat” (Temurah 6. 5, Soncino ed., p. 224; cf. Talmud Behoroth 15a, Soncino ed., p. 105).

In His sermon on the Mount, Christ moved from minor or imaginary wrongs in the life and character of others to the Christian’s attitude toward those who are obviously and fully in the wrong and have no wish to get away from sin. Jesus resembled those to dogs which were ceremonially unclean animals, and were disdained (Job 30:1).

About a dog uncleanness, Solomon wrote, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Peter quoted the same passage when he said, “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22).  Both Solomon and Peter illustrated the vile and foolish conduct of those who, having left the moral filth of the world, return to revel in it once more.

Don’t waste time and energy

By the phrase, “do not cast your pearls before swine,” Jesus meant that the gospel worker is not to waste time upon those who make the gospel only a matter of contention and ridicule. Christians are to spread the good news of the Bible to the whole word (Matthew 28:19) but, when it becomes clear that the gospel is rejected, they are to refrain.

And the Holy Spirit will help Christians identify these unholy individuals. “But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15–16).

Jesus taught, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” (Matthew 10:14). Where Christ’s followers are faced with unfriendly reception they are not to waste time, but hasten on to find those who would receive the word of God gladly. This act of departure from a home or a town is intended to be, not an act of discourtesy, but a holy protest. By shaking the dust from their feet, the disciples are simply saying to the people, you must accept responsibility for your negative decision (Galatians 6:7,8; Proverbs 22:8; Hosea 8:7).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

 

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