6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
To most of us (myself included) this might seem like a misplaced sentence in the sermon. Maybe Matthew wanted to make sure it got in there somewhere and just stuck it here. Really, it fits perfectly with the first 5 verses that talk about not judging someone. Jesus told us that when we exhort a brother or sister in Christ, to make sure we are setting the example yourself first. Jesus is telling us also not to waste our time on people who reject sound doctrine and refuse to receive correction. The pearls represent wisdom and the swine represent those who refuse to listen to sound wisdom.
The book of Proverbs contains many statements concerning wisdom and comparing the wise to the unwise. In chapter 9, we find a few gems that speak directly to whom we should love through reproof:
7 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
Solomon wrote words of wisdom about when we try to exhort someone with truth that they will not always accept it well. How many times have we spent hours trying to convince someone of the truth and they refused to accept it? Maybe you haven’t been in this situation yet, but if you continue to grow spiritually, you will get to a point where you notice someone you care about behaving in a way contrary to their words or beliefs. But when you try to talk to them about it, they will not listen to you. On a human level this is quite frustrating, especially since the reason why you attempt to talk to them was because you love them. The bible tells us to let them go and don’t waste any more time on it. Only God can change hearts and we cannot convince them to change part of their core beliefs. This is especially difficult for family members that we want to know Jesus in a real way.
Jesus explains this concept when He sent out the 70 to minister among different towns. He explained to them that if they are not received well in a town, to “dust off their feet” as we read in Luke 10:
10 “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 “But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. 15 “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! 16 “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”
Verse 16 is key: they aren’t rejecting us, they are rejecting Jesus. We take it personally when we try to counsel or help someone and they don’t want to listen. It makes us emotional and prompts us to continue trying and we could spend hours talking but nothing gets through. This is why Jesus previously said to make sure if we are going to try to remove the speck from a brother’s eye, to be sure we have removed the log in our own. By doing so, we will know if we are speaking the truth and seeing it clearly. If we speak to another biblically and with sound doctrine and they reject it, there is nothing else we can do nor are we expected to do more. They are deciding to reject the Word of God, not you. In fact, they may remain close to you, they just don’t agree with your point of view.
We must also be careful that we are not the ones rejecting sound doctrine. If we are feeling hurt or dismayed and someone comes alongside us to encourage and correct us, we must be wise to receive it instead of reject it. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy:
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Usually we read this passage as a guideline of how to teach, reprove, correct, and train others but often forget that it applies to us as well! If we are truly seeking God’s will and want to live a life that honors Him, then we must always subject ourselves to correction according to His word. If not, then as we read in Luke, we are rejecting Him, not the person who is sharing with us. How many times have you rejected God’s truth?