Dealing with “Dogs” and “Pigs” (2)

These words are usually interpreted to mean that we should not share God’s Word with people who don’t want to listen. Other passages in the Bible do contain that wise counsel, but perhaps Jesus is saying something else here. More likely, the Lord has seen into our self-righteous, critical heart when we observe someone with a fault that we don’t like. We become proud and arrogant. We look down on the own who has offended our standards of right and wrong (or even of taste!). In our eyes, our brother seems contemptible, even despicable. To the Jews of Jesus’ day, pigs (swine) and dogs were loathsome. The Law of Moses forbade eating or raising pigs, and dogs were known only as slinking, skulking scavenger, not beloved pets. With a kind of exaggeration often seen in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus imagines that I am so disgusted with my brother that he seems almost like a pig or dog – ugly, gross, and low – in my eyes. On the other hand, the advice, or even rebuke, that I have to offer is “holy” and precious. Holy, because I want to share my understanding of God’s righteousness with him. Precious, because I consider my insights as “pearls of wisdom” for my benighted neighbor. Always the insightful psychologist, Jesus shrewdly warns us against correcting an erring person with that kind of attitude. If I don’t communicate respect for the person whom I hope to help improve, he will not only trample my “pearls of wisdom” under his feet (like a pig), but turn on me and bite me (like a dog). He will, in other words, act they way I think he his! Better to keep silent for a while, except to pray to God for wisdom and grace to see my own “plank” and get it out of my eye!