We’ve studied some interesting passages recently while studying the book of Matthew. I love this book because it contains what I deem as “golden nuggets” or spiritual principles that may easily be applied to our lives today to help enrich us and assist us in our growth to become the men and women God desires us to become ….
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. He did that. His faithful disciples also assume the role of servant. They serve God, one another, and those who are lost, and those who are in need and distress. In this materialistic society where self-centeredness is the rule of the day, the Christian is taught to be gracious, forgiving and even more compassionate …..
We have God-given obligations to preach and teach the truth and to help those in need. We are told to be good neighbors, and this is illustrated in the parable of “The Good Samaritan” by a willingness to become involved. We must not take these responsibilities too lightly …
Paul said, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and unwise.” (Romans 1:14).
But, as is usually the case, there is another side to our responsibilities as servants ….
Sometimes Christians, in their eagerness to be compassionate and Christ-like, fail to recognize that God put limitations on this aspect of our discipleship. It is not always good stewardship to expend the time and energy to teach the truth or to render assistance to those apparently in need of such. In fact, sometimes to do so is poor stewardship and betrays our Lord’s trust in us ….
While we do not want this fact to be used as an excuse to ignore our responsibilities to act, neither do we want to waste the things the Lord has entrusted to us, including our lives and ourselves ….
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6).
Of course, these words of Jesus are allegorical. I doubt that anyone was literally casting pearls before swine. The meaning is pretty simple to figure out; “Do not persist in offering what is sacred or of value to those who have no appreciation for it, because your gift will not only become contaminated and be despised; but your generous efforts could also be rebuffed and perhaps even openly attacked” …..
The “dogs” and “swine” here stand for the unappreciative and worldly; unappreciative and uncaring men and women who belittle the value of what is offered to them. “That which is holy” could be the meat offered in sacrifice to God. A dog could care less whether it came from the altar or the garbage. The swine have no appreciation for either the beauty nor the value of the pearls under their feet, only in waddling in the mud ….
Your life, time, energy, opportunities and abilities are God’s pearls. Just as you’re His, essentially they’re His too! You and I are merely His stewards overseeing His precious possessions ……
“What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God and you are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
We must show discernment as to what use we make of God’s possessions. It is possible to waste them either by using them when we should not — as well as not using them when we should …..
“Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain to be by Himself alone.” (John 6:15).
Jesus was very popular at this stage of His ministry. He was teaching with authority things these people had never heard before. But the main reason for this is that He had just miraculously fed five thousand plus people. The purpose was twofold; the people were hungry, and Jesus wanted to illustrate the more important spiritual bread, the bread of life, that He was offering them in His teachings …..
But the people did not want the bread of life. They wanted more of the physical bread to eat. They began following Him for the wrong reason. Jesus offered them spiritual bread, but they did not want that. How often do we turn our nose at something that just doesn’t seem appealing? I have.
When Jesus refuses to duplicate the earlier miracle, continuing instead to redirect their attention toward the words of life, the people finally lose interest and begin to leave. They were unappreciative of the pearls Jesus was offering them. Jesus simply refused to allow His efforts to be wasted on those who had little interest in His purpose and mission ..
On another occasion, those who continued to ignore the implications of His earlier miracles, demanded He provide yet more. They were testing Him and were not really interested in what these signs signified about Jesus’ identity. Jesus simply refused their request (Matthew 16:1-4). He was not here to perform for them or to satisfy their curiosity (Luke 23:8,9), so He simply kept quiet ….
Jesus made it quite clear that His disciples were to move on when a city indicated its lack of interest in the gospel offered it by preachers and teachers (Matthew 10:11-14). He ended that lesson by saying, “and whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house, or city, shake the dust off your feet.” And Paul then followed in Jesus’ footsteps and example, and continued this practice and it says, “and the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 13:44-52)
What is the disciple to do when someone is in physical need because of a refusal to help themself? Jesus tells us not to cast our pearls before swine, and the application of this would be something like not to give such a person assistance if they were going to just throw it back in our faces. Yet, as we see — the disciples weren’t downcast or despondent because certain people wouldn’t listen or accept them. The Word says they were filled with joy — and how’s that again? Through the Holy Ghost!!!
Certainly, there’s need for discernment, which is enabled through the Holy Ghost. Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise (shrewd) as serpents, and innocent (harmless) as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).
How do we know when to say “yes” or “no”? When to keep teaching or be silent? We need to have wisdom and discernment. But some may use this as an excuse not to act when they really should. Most certainly that is so, yet we are not called to silence, yet to peace …..
Remember, we will all answer to God who knows our hearts. I will stand before Him having made some mistakes in judgment because I cannot read hearts. He knows that. But do not let me stand before Him having selfishly or lazily shirked my duty out of fear to speak because I might offend someone. He will hold me accountable ….
But it may not be as difficult to determine when to offer the pearls of God and when not to do so. Jesus said that even those in the world are capable of making such judgments (Luke 16:8-13). In fact, He says that they sometimes do a better job of it than “the children of light.” …..
Jesus told us how we can “know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). We are urged to ask God for wisdom in these and other matters (James 1:5-8). We must realize that sometimes the right thing to do is to just say “God bless” and move on …..
In conclusion, I will close with the passage of scriptures in (Titus 3:8-11), “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is a heretic after the first or second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned to himself.”
Let’s pray ~
Heavenly Father, how I thank You that by faith in the Lord Jesus, Your Holy Ghost has made me alive in Him and placed me into the family of God and the Body of Christ ….
Thank You that He has set His seal of ownership upon me and taken up residence within my heart so as to empower me in my spiritual walk, as He gradually transforms me in to the lovely likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself ….
I pray that by and through the power of the Holy Ghost I would be lead and guided in all things, and that I would learn to listen to the gentle promptings of His voice as I read Your Word or commune with You in prayer … Give me grace to recognize His still small voice as I search though the scriptures each day and the wisdom to discern Your spiritual nudges, when godly Christians are prompted to offer direction and give me advice ….
May I maintain an open heart and develop a teachable spirit I pray, and that I may walk in Your ways and live a life that is well pleasing to You and glorify my Father in heaven, I ask this in Jesus name, Amen ….