Dogs & Holy Water

I had a friend when I was younger who was well known for his non-sequiturs. You would faithfully listen to a recollection of his, nodding and making appropriate sounds at appropriate times. And then he would stop. “Oh, I must have let my attention slip. I missed something.” That didn’t seem to go anywhere; in fact, it didn’t really relate to anything about which we had been talking. And your just about to query him, when you notice a broad grin on his face. This was his form of humor. Making you plan along, getting you to act like what he was saying made total sense.

I’m not sure if it is how Matthew splices the Sermon On The Mount together, or if Jesus just threw this one in, seemingly, at random but today I want to focus on a single, difficult verse.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do no throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Matthew 7:6

Taken with what has just been said about avoiding judgmentalism, it seems a bit contradictory. Or taken with what will follow, it seems like a non-sequitur. While it best fits with 7:1-5, further investigation will show that it is not contradictory, but rather a helpful corollary.

It would be easy to read Jesus injunction, “Do not judge” and begin naively accepting everything and everyone at face value. But even Jesus Himself did not do this:

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”

John 2:23-25

Leon Morris puts it succinctly: “Disciples are not to be judgmental, but that does not mean that they are to lack discernment.”

I start to enter into this verse when I see it lived out in Jesus. He gladly heals the sick, preaches the gospel to the crowds and joins the children in their play. But He is nobody’s fool. He is not deceived by the Pharisees, trapped by the religious experts, or stymied when He must speak the harsh truth. That’s what He wants for me too.

Lord, give me the compassion and the courage, to speak the truth in love, to also be silent, and the wisdom to know when each is appropriate.

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