“Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls before pigs. Pigs will only trample on them, and dogs will turn to attack you.” –Matthew 7:6 (NCV)
It’s likely you’ve heard someone in the past give a person the following piece of advice:
“Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”
These instructions came from Jesus Himself in his now infamous Sermon on the Mount. Practically speaking, Jesus is warning us here to avoid offering that which is valuable to people who cannot appreciate it.
But in order to obey Jesus’ instructions, we must first answer this million-dollar question:
“How am I supposed to even know when I’m interacting with a pig?”
In order to avoid offering something of value to a pig, you’re first going to have to be able to identify and discern when you’re standing in front of one.
Here are two questions you can ask yourself to help you better identify if you’re casting your pearls before swine:
1. What has been this person’s track record in the past?
It’s interesting that when we look back at Jesus’ warning to us here in Matthew 7:6, He specifically references two animals—dogs and pigs. If somehow we could identify a few characteristics of these two animals, we’d be that much closer to obeying Jesus instructions.
One Scripture reference that gives us more insight into the behavior of these two animals is found in 2 Peter 2:22. There it says that dogs return back to eat food that they’ve thrown up and pigs, even after they’ve been washed, go back to rolling around in the mud.
This text practically is speaking to a person’s track record with investments of value that you’ve made in them in the past.
What was the response of this person to the time, energy, opportunities, access, etc that you invested in them in the past? Once you imparted valuable wisdom, did this person receive it only to go back and roll around again in the same things you were trying to help them get out of? If so, be very careful with additional investments you’d consider making into them in the near future—it’s possible that you could be dealing with either a dog or a pig.
Now let me be clear about one thing—people indeed can change!! A person’s past doesn’t have to define their future.
However, here’s the key: Does the person truly want the change for themselves? Changes you attempt to make for someone who’s unwilling to change themselves will never stick. [Click here to tweet that] Remembering that fact will save you a lot of frustration and wasted energy!
2. What do I perceive the true intent of this person to be towards me?
This second question deals with intent. Jesus said that a dog, even if it was given something holy, would turn around and attack you regardless. Why? Because it’s intent was never to truly receive from you. Its true desire was to attack and hurt you.
A great example of this principle is found over in Mark 8:11-13. Here we find the Pharisees asking Jesus to perform a miracle (i.e., something holy). However, we’re told that their true intent wasn’t really about witnessing God’s miraculous power—it was rather getting Jesus to prove whether His claims about Himself were in fact really true.
I LOVE Jesus’ response!! After He tells them that He won’t be performing any heavenly miracles on demand for their viewing pleasure, He simply got into a boat and left headed in the opposite direction!!
Some people’s intent for wanting insider access from you isn’t rooted in a love they have for you…sometimes it’s to turn around and attack you. Here’s a tip: If you suspect someone’s intentions towards you may not be entirely pure, pay close attention to their words. Our words reflect our true character and the current nature of our hearts.
My advice to you is to be discerning in WHAT you choose to offer to others. Be selective in WHO you offer it to. Doing so will help you to avoid greater regret down the road.
I’m quite sure you have other ideas about this topic!! Maybe you see other ways to identify “a pig” or maybe you just have an opinion or past experience in general to share. Feel free to share those thoughts with all of us by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear your take!
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