By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
I am one of those people who try to find meaning in everyday events, lessons in common experiences.
Usually, I am able to find some application with the Word of God in these experiences.
I recently learned a valuable lesson from an unlikely source, and a powerful illustration of Scripture from an unusual experience.
There is a stray dog that has been hanging around my neighborhood, that I have tried making friends with.
Unfortunately, every time I make a gesture of peace, the poor dog runs away. (I suspect that his’ former owners had been unkind to him).
Every time I would whistle at the pup, or walk towards him, or speak kindly, he would just go further and further away.
Well, the other day, I decided to try and make another effort, with a new strategy. I had some left over french fries from my Wendy’s jalapeño cheddar meal, and I thought, “I bet this dog will be friendly if I give him some food!”
So, I made sure he saw me, and then I threw the fries in the air over my driveway.
I whistled at him, made that “kissing” noise, and walked to my porch to watch what would happen.
My wife Heather joined me, and before we knew it, that dog was slowly trotting over to our driveway.
I was so excited, I said, “Heather, it’s working!! Here he comes!!”
She frowned, and then I looked back at the scene.
The dog had approached the french fries, and was sniffing. Then (I SWEAR he looked right at me), he peed all over them.
I still remember thinking, Why would that stupid dog behave like that?
It was almost like he was just being spiteful.
And then, I remembered something that Jesus had said to His disciples:
Matthew 7:6-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.
Dogs and swine in Jesus’ day (much like ours, I have learned) would often treat with disdain anything of value.
It didn’t matter how precious the gift you offered was (even a half a pack of Wendy’s French Fries!), the dogs and swine would often regard such with complete disgust and then turn and attack you.
The swine were not like that cute little pig Babe in the movie Babe: Pig In The City.
Instead, they were vicious, ungrateful, and indifferent towards what was of real value.
In reality, there are people like that in the world.
There are some who have made up their minds that they will be obnoxious, odiferous, self-centered dogs and swine.
They are only concerned with self, and with their own pleasures and having their ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
In fact, in the context of Jesus’ statement, He is dealing with people with such a character: the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20), who were a religious denomination of Jesus’ day who were filled with pride and self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14).
They trusted in themselves and not in God (Luke 18:1), and were notorious for looking down upon others (Luke 15:1-2). Intent on keeping their traditions and doctrines of men which made their worship empty before God (Mark 7:7), they were would often set aside the weightier matters of the Law (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). Many were not interested in hearing the Word of God, and so Jesus warns His disciples to beware of people with such attitudes.
Indeed, the immediate context of our passage indicates that Jesus was warning the disciples against such people who would judge unrighteous judgment, according to unjust standards while they who did this judging failed to keep their own laws while having no real desire to do better and yet putting on the show to everyone else that they were perfect (Matthew 7:1-5).
They will quickly turn on a person and viciously attack them. Hypocrites indeed!
With this context in mind, Jesus’ statement about dogs and swine is especially relevant:
“In biblical times dogs were seldom kept as household pets in the way they are today. Except for those used as working animals to herd sheep, they were largely half-wild mongrels that acted as scavengers. They were dirty, greedy, snarling, and often vicious and diseased. They were dangerous and despised….Because a Jew would never have tried to domesticate a pig, most of the swine they encountered were, like the dogs, wild animals who foraged for themselves, often in garbage dumps on the edge of town. Like the scavenging dogs, those swine were greedy, vicious, and filthy even by ordinary pig standards. If you came between them and their food they would likely turn and tear you to pieces with their tusks and sharp hooves. Jesus’ point is that certain truths and blessings of our faith are not to be shared with people who are totally antagonistic to the things of God. Such people are spiritual dogs and swine, who have no appreciation for that which is holy and righteous. They will take that which is holy, the pearls (the rarest and most valuable of jewels; see Matt. 13:45-46) of God’s Word, as foolishness and as an insult. A wild animal whose primary concern is scavenging for food will hardly appreciate being thrown a pearl. He will resent its not being something to eat and possibly attack the one who throws it….Dogs and swine represent those who, because of their great perversity and ungodliness, refuse to have anything to do with the holy and precious things of God except to trample them under their feet, and turn and tear God’s people to pieces. There will be times when the gospel we present is absolutely rejected and ridiculed and we make the judgment to turn away and speak no more, deciding that we should “shake off the dust of [our] feet” (Matt. 10:14) and begin ministering somewhere else. There will be times when those to whom we witness will resist the gospel and blaspheme God, and we may speak words of judgment. Like Paul, we must then say, in effect, “Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). When people not only reject the gospel, but insist on mocking and reviling it, we are not to waste God’s holy Word and the precious pearls of His truth in a futile and frustrating attempt to win them. We are to leave them to the Lord, trusting that somehow His Spirit can penetrate their hearts—as He apparently did with some of those who at first rejected the preaching of Paul and the other apostles—or leaving them to the just judgment of God.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 10819-10862 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Press)
Beware of dogs who will “pee on your fries.”
If a person demonstrate a continual attitude of hostility towards the Gospel, pray for them and move on to others who will appreciate the good Word of God that you have to offer.
Many will appreciate the good news that God reaches out in love to sinful man (John 3:16), so that He gave His Son to die for our sins at Calvary (1 Timothy 2:6), was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Many will be happy to hear that their sins can be forgiven and that God will add them to His church if they, as believers who have heard God’s Word (Acts 18:8; Romans 10;17) will repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), confess their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37), and be baptized by the authority of Christ to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2:38).
There will also be those who have left the Lord, erring Christians who may be joyful to learn that God will forgive them back into full fellowship (Revelation 3:20) if they will simply repent of their sinfulness and confess their sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9).
If you need to obey the Lord, I implore you to do so immediately!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.