Pearls before Pigs

black hog prone lying on soil under shade of tree
Photo by Magda Ehlers on


Reading the Word

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.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a short passage and may seem a little harsh. Who are the “dogs” and pigs” Jesus is talking about and what are the “pearls” we should hold onto? The dogs that Jesus refers to are not domesticated pets, but wild scavengers. Pigs, under Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 14:8), were considered unclean and were not to be eaten by the Jewish people. So, when Jesus speaks of dogs and pigs here, he is speaking of unholy and unclean people who have no regard for what is sacred.

When Jesus speaks of pearls, he is speaking of that which is most precious. Of course, that which is most precious to Jesus’ followers is the message of the kingdom itself (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).

Does this mean we should not give the gospel message to some? No, but it does mean that we need to be discerning about when we do share. If our sharing is only going to result in the mocking of or trampling of the gospel in mud by the person we are sharing with (like some of the arguments people get into on social media), we are better not to share. There may be a better opportunity with the same person later when they are truly ready to listen and consider rather than attack. We are called to go into the world and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, but let us pray for discernment in how we do that and let us also pray that God would prepare hearts to hear the truth.

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