Of pearls, pigs, and priorities

Good morning everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “How to inhabit time”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6 (CSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Of pearls, pigs, and priorities.”
 
Sometimes life requires us to make difficult choices. We can’t do everything, all the time, for everyone. We only have so much time, emotional energy, and resources. Priorities have to be set and choices have to be made. The Bible is filled with stark contrasts and sometimes strong language, all designed to move us to make the hard choices and to do the hard things. This is one of those lessons.
 
Right up front let me point out that the terms “dogs” and “pigs” used in this illustration were Jesus’ words not mine. He used them in the Sermon on the Mount to make a critical point. Dogs in His day were vicious mongrels who attacked and injured other animals and sometimes people. Pigs were unclean animals that were filthy and disgusting. Pearls were precious and valuable, and therefore should not be treated with contempt and simply tossed into the mud with the pigs.
 
Jesus applied this analogy to enemies who hate God’s people and who will harm them if they can. The pearls and holy things Jesus referred to are all the precious resources (including your time) which God has entrusted to His people. The terms dogs and pigs, when applied to people, sounds harsh and unkind but Jesus had a critical point to make and an important lesson to teach, and He wanted to be sure we didn’t miss it.
 
This isn’t about pearls and pigs. It’s about being smart and making good choices. In the “Experiencing God Study Bible”, with respect to this parable, Henry Blackaby asks us to consider, “Are you giving God’s precious treasures to people who despise and demean them?” The application is that we are not to waste our time on people and activities that aren’t worthy of it. Your time is a little piece of your life. When you give people your time, you are giving them a piece of your life. That’s a precious treasure. It’s a gift from God. Is the recipient worthy of such a gift? Will they appreciate it? Or, will it be wasted? Even Jesus turned away from people and places where His time and effort wasn’t welcome or appreciated.
 
Satan is a leech, a bloodsucker. He will suck the life right out of you if you let him, and he will do it by bringing into your life people and activities who meet the criteria of Jesus’ analogy of dogs and pigs. According to Jesus, they are unholy and unworthy because they will take advantage of you, manipulate you, and harm you if given the chance. The point of the parable is that we have to be smart when it comes to making choices about which people and activities we will give our time, attention, and resources to.
 
We do, of course, need to err on the side of grace. We do need to be kind, compassionate, and merciful. And we do need to give people a chance. But we are not to be naïve either. We are not (as Jesus said) to toss our pearls before pigs.
 
This is a hard lesson. It sounds harsh. But it’s also reality. Not everyone is equally deserving of your time, attention, and resources. Choices have to be made – and Jesus calls us to be smart about it.
 
God bless,
Pastor Jim 
Copyright © 2023 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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