Introduction. Read Matthew7v6.

Do not give dogs what is sacred, do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Christians are familiar and comfortable with Jesus' teaching on being judgmental. Many bad judgments are made because we have the planks of bias, prejudice, self-love or ignorance in our eye. We may well have been the victims of unfair criticism.

Jesus teaching on throwing our pearls before swine is less familiar and at first reading, jars. Evangelical Christians are so used to thinking up one initiative after another to get unbelievers into church that they pay scant heed to what Jesus has to say about dogs and hogs. It is a mistake to ignore any teaching of Jesus. He instructs us to avoid becoming harshly judgmental but also to show a degree of discernment.

Jesus' pithy, vivid and uncompromising reference to dogs and hogs teaches us four things:

(1) The great value of what we have in Christ.

The writer of the book of Proverbs uses a literary device known as parallelism. A statement is made and then repeated in a slightly different form. For example:

A good name is more desirable than great riches:
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Prov.22v1.

Jesus uses this device in Matthew7v6. So, the sacred or holy possession of Christians is likened to a pearl which:

  • Grows by accretion.

  • Has a lustre that makes it beautiful.

  • Adorns the wearer.

  • Is very precious and sort after.

God's truth is like the pearl:

  • The first layers of the pearl were laid down in the Old Testament, added to by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and brought to completion through the teaching of the apostles.

  • God's truth has the beauty of a lustrous pearl. We just have to consider the 23rd Psalm, the Beatitudes, the Parable of the Prodigal Son and Paul's matchless description of love in 1Cor13 to be aware of this.

  • God's truth will adorn our lives if we put it into practice. It will enhance our attractiveness as a lovely pearl necklace does a pretty neck. Just consider one great New Testament pearl; Jesus said: "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and show myself to him." Jn14v21.

  • God's truth is very, very precious. Jesus embodies God's truth. He is the way, the truth and the life and no-one comes to God but through him. Eternal life is the prize of those who believe and obey Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jn3v16.

    (3) The nature of those who scorn God's truth.

    Jesus likens those who scorn God's truth to dogs and hogs. So, let us have a look at:

    (a) The dogs.

    There are two words for dog in the Bible. One, kurarion, refers to pet dogs. This word was used by Jesus when he told the Canaanite woman who pleaded with him to deliver her daughter from demons: "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Mt15v26. The other word, kuon, was used of feral dogs that roamed the mean streets scavenging for food. This is the word used in our text. It was also used by Paul when he wrote to the Philippians: Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. Phil3v2.

    So, when Jesus used the word dogs of those who scorned God's truth, he was describing their nature. They were and are vicious, snarling, snapping, biting opponents of the gospel. They love nothing better than ganging up against Christians like a pack of jackals baying for blood.

    Jesus was not exaggerating. You only have to witness what happens in Britain if a public figure comes out strongly against abortion or gay marriage. The hounds of hell are unleashed against that person.

    However, to be fair, there are packs of dogs kennelled in some churches. Paul's most savage opponents were legalistic, Jewish Christians who advocated circumcision for all believers. There remain factions in the church who are quite prepared to turn on someone like myself who argue against Creationism and a young earth.

    (b) The hogs.

    The hogs Jesus was thinking of were not the same as those kept on Suffolk farms today. They were half wild, tusked animals that were nearly as likely to attack you as the feral dogs. They would be found roaming around villages with a Gentile component to the population. These pigs were considered by the Jews to be an unclean creature. See Lev11v9 and Dt14v8.

    In one respect the pigs of Jesus' time were like our modern pigs. Swine, both ancient and modern, are undiscriminating. They will eat almost anything. When I was a boy I can remember a lorry going round collecting discarded food from schools, hospitals, cafes and the like. This food waste was known as swill. The pigs loved it!

    There are folk today just like the pigs with, if not depraved, certainly undiscriminating appetites. They love something for nothing; a free meal goes down very well! Such people relish cheap entertainment, a bargain, dubious substances, idols to worship and undeserved celebrity.

    (3) The danger of sharing God's truth with those who hold it in contempt.

    There are two possible outcomes:

    (a) God's precious truth will be rejected, spurned and despised. The hogs in particular will spit it out and trample it underfoot. This is an INSULT to God.

    The LORD is not best pleased to be insulted. He reacted in fury to the golden calf Aaron made - without, hardly, trying - and the right old "knees up" the Israelites had in celebration of this less demanding deity. See Ex32.

    (b) God's servants will be attacked. If you cast pearls at a pack of feral dogs they might mistake them for missiles and launch a retaliatory attack tearing God's messenger to pieces.

    Jeremiah delivered God's truth and ended up in a cistern. See Jer38v1to5. Stephen bore witness to Israelis obduracy and was stoned to death. See Acts7v51to59. When Paul detailed his sufferings to the Corinthians he had to include among his woes: In danger from false brothers. 2Cor11v27.

    It happens today. On Friday 16th September 2016 there was this headline in the Daily Telegraph: Grayling's School: Marriage is between man and wife. A retired teacher who was helping out at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, Bucks set this question for a Math's test: If in a town 70% of the men are married to 90% of the women (and each marriage is between one man and one woman as God intended when he made humans male and female), what % of the adult population is married. This produced a storm of protest. The volunteer teacher was told his services were no longer required. One student accused him of making homophobic comments and another called him a caricature of conservative Christianity.

    I wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph pointing out, among other things, that when Adam was lonely in the Garden of Eden God did not provide him with an Andrew! God made Adam and Eve for one another. This is something that Jesus endorsed when he dealt with men of his time divorcing their wives on trivial grounds.

    The Daily Telegraph didn't publish my letter! They never publish anything written by an evangelical Christian.

    On thinking further about the matter I concluded that although the volunteer teacher was promoting God's truth it was probably inappropriate to do so in a Math's test question. He threw God's truth to the dogs and they tore him to pieces.

    (4) The prohibition on sharing God's truth with those who hold it in contempt.

    We must finally acknowledge that Jesus said, "Do not ..... do not ... offer God's truth to the hogs and dogs of this world." We need to take our lead from Jesus:

    (a) He wasn't in the entertainment business. Herod wanted to see Jesus in the hope of being entertained by a miracle or two. When Pilate sent Jesus to be interrogated by Herod the Saviour did not answer any of his questions. He would not pander to his carnal curiosity. See Luke23v8and9.

    I think the church needs to beware of putting on a free meal and entertainment to attract people in. They may, indeed, come to be fed and entertained but will usually prove unresponsive to the gospel.

    When I was a student at University College London I had long conversations with a fellow student about the various sins involving sex. My friend was highly amused and entertained by my views. He had a depraved appetite and was not really interested in God's truth. He just loved talking about sex. It was not long before I discontinued the discussions.

    (b) Jesus was not prepared to waste his time. He didn't spend long in Nazareth once he began his ministry because: "A prophet is not without honour save in his own country." See Lk4v14to30 and Mk6v1to6.

    Jesus told his twelve disciples when he sent them forth to proclaim the Kingdom: "And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as testimony against them." See Mk6v11.

    I think we waste a lot of time trying to reach those who spurn God's truth, who are indifferent to it - or at worst hostile to it. A lot of open air preaching is like this in Britain. So is handing out tracts or, in my case, the distribution of the Brockley Baptist Chapel Newssheet around the village. I have circulated Brockley for 15 years with no response. It is time to call it a day.

    (c) Jesus took pains to preserve his life until the time came for his sacrificial death. He did this in two ways:

    • By teaching in parables. He left his parables with his hearers to make of them what they would.

      I told stories in school assemblies. They were mostly real life anecdotes. See story: Be Still. The children listened; the stories meant something to them and were remembered by them. One girl, long after she left school, said they were like signposts on the journey of life.

    • By withdrawing from the public eye - so that he could teach his disciples in private. See Jn11v45to57. There are matters concerning God's truth that are better dealt with out of the public domain.


    Followers of Jesus are called to, "Go and make disciples of all nations." Mt25v19. Therefore they cannot waste what little time they have on those that do not care to hear. It is significant that the period of my life that I witnessed many conversions and, indeed, was used to bring young people to faith in Jesus myself, was during the 20 years I served at a Christian camp for boys and girls. The main aim of the camp was to challenge young people with the gospel. Churches and parents who sent their boys and girls to Pioneer Camp prayed for their conversion. And this is the crucial point: the youngsters were much more receptive to God's truth than adults who had already made up their minds about Christianity. The seed was sown in good soil - soil that had been prepared for it - and it bore fruit. Nothing is more soul destroying than to spend your life scattering the good seed on the wayside especially if lurking in the undergrowth are wild pigs and rabid dogs.