“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.” Matthew 7:6
Jesus used some crazy illustrations. I imagine He fascinated His listener of His day. I’m fascinated by what He says just by reading it. This Bible passage has been used to teach many personal agendas. The passage is vague enough that I believe its okay to use this passage to make all kinds of conclusions. I intend, before this post is over, to make a specific point using this passage to teach about dogs and pigs in the form of people. Before I write my intended point, I think it would be healthy to take a quick shot at what Jesus literally meant when He taught this passage referenced.
In passages throughout the Bible about judging, we can read that we aren’t to judge unbelievers…and “dogs” was a slang term for unbelievers, in Jesus’s time. I think that Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t try to use Biblical ideas/principles/wisdom to try to help or teach unbelievers through their problems because they do not even believe the Bible to be true at this point in their life. I have tried this. I have tried to talk to unbelievers about their problems and have quoted parts of the Bible to them. I found it thrown back in my face. Almost with hostility. (Have you ever purchased a Bible and gave it as a gift to a non-believer? It has a tendency to turn the stomach of the recipient. It seems to backfire.) It is giving something sacred to a “dog” or a “pig”. When its all said and done, the sacred gets defiled and the pig just stays muddy. I think that’s what Jesus literally means. The solution is to love unbelievers as they are and when they start believing, they will open themselves up to the “pearls.” Its better to wait than to try to force feed the Bible to someone who isn’t ready for such a huge meal.
The rest of this blog is biased by what I want to write about. I want to write about “CHANGE” as the sacred pearls and the dog and/or pig could be anyone of us at any given time in our life.
I grew up on a large farm in the NW corner of Kansas. (Oakley KS) My parents still live there and it is now quite fun to take my wife and 4 children there to experience farm life. At the Renner Farm we have always had a dog and have had significant periods of time where we owned hundreds of pigs. I think that most people believe that dogs, overall, are very intelligent. I’m guessing that most people, however, are not aware that pigs are just as, if not more intelligent than a dog. I know for a fact that most people do not think that pigs are animals of cleanliness. No doubt, every pig likes its mud, but most people do not know that mud is a pigs air conditioner. A pig does not like to get dirty as much as it likes to stay cool. A pig can only sweat through its pores on its nose, which means it can’t sweat much to cool off. It has to use external resources to cool off. A water puddle and mud is to a pig, as a swimming pool is to a kid on a hot summer day! It cools.
There is a point to this lesson about dogs and pigs. Keep reading.
A dog, as it ages and gets accustomed to its comforts and patterns of habit, doesn’t like to change. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” A sweaty pig ends up in cardiac arrest due to heat stroke. “You are sweating like a pig” If a pig can’t sweat enough to cool itself off, then it just sits in the mud with very little movement in the heat of the moment.
Using this beastly illustration is my attempt to teach on change or the ability to change. Are there moments in my life where I act like a dog? Are there moments in my life where I act like a pig? My answer to those questions is yes. Sadly we all can act like dogs and pigs when it comes to needing change. The remaining post below is an all out assault on the human pigs and dogs that exist today. On rare occasions I personally need the following assault.
**WARNING** If you are offended by the remainder of this post you are most definitely resisting learning a new trick or you are willfully stuck in the mud. Or, to say it succinctly, you are a dog or you are a pig. Hopefully not both…I’m not sure what that would even look like.
How do we know if we are morphing into a dog or a pig?
Its simple…I am becoming a pig or a dog if I am resistant to change something that needs to change.
The piggly or doggedly things in us start to surface when someone else suggests the need for change in our lives. I have realized, through a couple of surprise life altering encounters in my recent past, that there are some underlying issues that cause us to not want to change. Show me where legitimate change is needed but is not happening and we will also find the underlying reasons as to why those who need to change are not. The number of things I am going to list is not complete. You may be able to think of some other reasons. If you can think of others, please share them with me in the comment section as I want to continue to be a learner and change agent.
Below are the main reasons why people don’t like to change. Or…below are the things that Jesus says causes Christians to become “Dogs” or “Pigs.”
SELF PRESERVATION – You want what you want! Its pretty simple really. A pig and a dog have a narrow focus. They think about their immediate desires and they pursue it. Anything that gets in the way of their selfish desire…well…have you ever experienced an attack from a dog? Have you ever listened to a hunter talk about being attacked by a wild pig? Encountering an angry dog or pig is terrifying. These creatures only think about their immediate desires and when those desires are being threatened, the fight or flight method kicks in. In the Church world, if pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want, their fight or flight method kicks in. The fight method causes for long meetings and then extra special meetings after THE original meeting. The fight method in the church reveals who is really in charge. The fight method brings the worst out of people and reveals what is settled in their heart. If the fight method doesn’t surface, then that leaves the flight method. Its hard to say this, but it’s spoken in love. When pigs and/or dogs don’t get what they want in the Church and they don’t want to fight, then they just leave until they find what they desire. Churches that are dying, are really just hospices for the pigs and the dogs. I don’t mean that in a mean spirited way, I say it in total love and truth telling. If I refuse to change in areas that change is required, so success and fruitfulness can happen again, then bottom line, I am selfish. I am acting like a dog or a pig and I don’t deserve the pearls that God would have me manage. Self-Preservation is a sin that morphs christians into pigs and dogs.
EGO – “I like what I like and I think my ways are the best ways.” That sentence, which is a thought and very rarely spoken, is riddled with ego. Let me be clear about something. Ego in itself, is not a bad thing. Ego, in its simplest form, is confidence. As long as someone’s ego doesn’t rise higher than their ability or integrity, then that ego is a okay…it is confidence. Was it not ego for Jesus to say, “I am the way, the truth and the life”? The Apostle Paul had ego. David had ego. Goliath had ego. Jezebel had ego. The instant their ego level went higher than their integrity, they were disciplined by God. (Pride comes before the fall.) How they responded to their discipline determined if God allowed them to reestablish their influence or not. Repentance is huge! A dog and a pig are both confident that their way is the right way. The dog likes the tricks he is able to perform. The pig loves the cool comforts of its stagnant mud hole. The dog has learned to selfishly entertain itself with its old tricks and only gathers with other dogs and pigs that like those same old tricks. The pig has been laying in its mud hole for so long it doesn’t smell the stench anymore. Understanding this helps us realize how easy it is to become a dog and a pig. The dog and the pig see no need to change. Change would make them uncomfortable. To learn new tricks would require sacrifice as they worked through a new learning curve and would require admitting that their old trick used to be good. The pig would have to risk getting out of the mud, which takes a lot of effort, and could cause over heating issues as they stepped into the light. The dog’s ego prevents it from experiencing the thrill of new tricks. The pig’s ego prevents it from experiencing fresh mud holes down the road.
A typical pig or dog, at this point, would ask, “who gets to determine what tricks or mud holes are the right ones or not? They would ask, what makes you think your mud pit and your tricks are the right way? The answer to that question is, I don’t know if my idea is the right idea, but what I do know is that your old tricks and your mud pit are not effective anymore. I have found that pigs and dogs are confident of the way they think is right. Christians who are NOT pigs or dogs don’t know what method will work best, they only recognize when a way that used to be the right way no longer is. People who are not pigs or dogs want to leave the old tricks and want to get out of the stagnant mud hole. People who are not dogs or pigs are willing to try something new and they won’t have any of the reasons listed in this post that hold them back.
Pigs and Dogs, due to Self Preservation, are sub-conscienly driven by their own desires. This fact is an integrity problem due to selfishness. This integrity problem begins to rise. The person’s integrity now begins to drop under their ego and now they begin morphing into a pig or a dog. Unknowingly the dog and the pig enjoy being stuck in the mud of old tricks. Worst case scenario is that this reality is the beginning of a slow and safe death. If the worst case scenario doesn’t happen then the pig and the dog quietly slip into the village of average. Some might say that average isn’t so bad. I say that average is invisible. I would prefer death to invisibility. Eventually they end up in the same place. Ineffectiveness. Isn’t that the same as death?
CONTROL – When a person is committed to self preservation, which naturally leads to their integrity level to drop below their ego level, it will progress into the desire to control. Self Preservation + Low Integrity/High Ego = Control. Controlling people are dogs and pigs that will not receive the pearls that God would have them manage. People who refuse to change, keep everything under their control. A good illustration would be like a ship’s captain who refused to listen to the navigator as he warned him of a huge coral reef just ahead. The controlling captain, with all his/her ego and self preservation abounding…controls the ship right into death for all.
Pearls to swine…so tragic and devastating.
AFRAID – Change is suffocated by fearfulness on a daily basis. It is scary to get out of the comfortable smelly mud hole. The possibility of looking stupid as the dog tries a new trick is debilitating. People who refuse to change are really just people overwhelmed by fear. These reasons for not changing feed off of each other. Controlling people are in full tilt self preservation mode because they are afraid of something. Fear could be accused as being the king motivator as to why the pig and the dog even exist in church world. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Fear of losing a position of power. Share your thoughts with me about this in the comments section.
LAZINESS– Bottom line, its hard work to change. Lazy people hate change. We are busy, stressed, and don’t need more pressure. The pig and the dog lie to themselves, thinking that everything is fine and they don’t want to fix it, if it ain’t broke. The problem is that out of control ego and self preservation have blinded them to the fact that when something isn’t growing it is actually dying. When newcomers enter the old tricks mud pit, he/she notices the tricks are ineffective and the mud is stagnant. The new comer naturally, and even kindly, will mention the smell and age of the tricks, but the pig and the dog are overcome by fear which causes them to resort to control which causes them to fight or flight. Bottom line Pigs and Dogs struggle with being lazy. The pearl is hidden in the new trick and just outside the reach of a mud hole. Its hard work to get to get the new pearls. Jesus is warning us not to throw pearls to swine or give sacred things to dogs. Jesus knows the underlying reasons that are being listed in this post.
My hope in this post is revelation and awareness, not condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog, reading this, don’t see this as condemnation. I hope the pig and the dog realize they aren’t meant to be a pig or a dog, but a New Creation in Jesus Christ that is bent on completing the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do you kill the Pig or the Dog within you?
Kill SELF PRESERVATION by promoting the progress and purpose of other people, more so than your own… Matthew 20:28, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Stop trying to make Church what you think it should be and make it such that people who are far from Jesus want to come and give their life to Him. Be willing to sacrifice your wants for others. Jesus did. As a Christian you can get what you want on your own outside the walls of church. You can fill your desire for your favorite worship music at home. You can fill your desire for your style of Bible study on your own study time. You can self feed. You are the Christian. Sacrifice your desires for those who are still searching for Christ. Paul said, I become all things to all people so that some may be saved! What a great attitude. Paul was not a pig or a dog.
Kill EGO by considering others as better than yourself. The following passage is adequate for Ego and Self Preservation. Philippians 2:3, Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Kill CONTROL by giving it back to God. When you try to control anything, its like you getting in the face of God and screaming at Him, “I can do it better than you, God!” That’s eternally devastating. Romans 8:9 says, But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Kill FEARFULNESS by trusting God at His word. Don’t forget that God wants what is best for you! He doesn’t promise safety, but He promises eternal good to those who live for Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Kill LAZINESS by knowing that you work for God, not yourself and certainly not for your selfish desires. Romans 12:11 says, Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”
For God’s sake, be willing to change.
Gor the sake of the World, Change.
For the Church’s sake, keep changing the methods, but keep the message the same.
There are pearls/blessings/thrills/adventures/challenges/fruitfulness to be harvested!
Jesus says never give pearls to a dog or a pig.
Don’t be a dog.
Don’t be a pig.