Motivated by… What?
One winter a farmer found a snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The warmth quickly revived the Snake, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. “Oh,” cried the farmer with his last breath, “I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel.” -Aesop’s Fables
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” -Christ, in Matthew 7: 6
But how do we know who the swine are, not to mention the dogs? Aren’t we supposed to just love everybody? Shouldn’t we talk to anyone who wants to talk to us? Why question motives?
This terrifying statement by Christ gets very little attention in contemporary evangelicalism. Has anyone ever sat you down and explained how to identify pigs and dogs? Have you ever heard a sermon preached on this verse that has a present dayapplication? Sure, we can come up with some sort of application in Christ’s day: He was talking about those religious leader types, you know, the scribes and Pharisees. Yeah, those social and religious lepers needed somebody to bring them up short!
But hold on a minute: What about today? It’s great to make a (hopefully accurate) historic interpretation, but quite another to make a (hopefully accurate) contemporary application.
And, let’s not forget why Christ said what He said. It wasn’t so much that the holy and the pearls would be wasted, although that is in view as the valued pearls would be trampled underfoot. But what’s more important is that the pigs and dogs will cause actual harm to come to you! That is, when you give what is good to profane beings, they will now have weapons that they didn’t have before, instruments of destruction that will assist them in tearing you to pieces.
It seems Christ has two kinds of enemies in mind here: By swine, He means those who would ignore the wonderful words of the gospel of life, and by dogs He refers to aggressive animals that are difficult to contain. In the case of both the pigs and the dogs, words will have little effect: The pigs, preferring mud and manure, will ignore them; the dogs, preferring violence and destruction, will bite the hand that ventures close enough to feed them.
But did Christ illustrate His own precept? I think he did throughout the gospels, but He did give us an especially clear example when he cleaned out the temple in John 2. When Christ got to the temple that day He observed a corruption for which He could not and would not stand: Temple thieves that pretended to assist in worship of His Father.
This situation was insufferable as far as Christ was concerned: He made a whip, drove them out, and thus solved the problem. But that’s when the moneychangers had a question for Christ: “What sign do You show us, since You do these things?”
Now, it was clear by this time that Christ was dealing with pigs and dogs, so He gave them nothing holy, no pearls: “Destroy this temple,” He said, “And in three days I will raise it up.” Translation: I’m not answering you. You don’t deserve an answer. ”
The answer to our question then, “Why question motives?” is answered. It is obvious that motives are connected to motivation. Anyone who shows the motivation of pigs and dogs toward the things of the gospel deserves nothing holy and no pearls.
~ Joel Saint