Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
— Matthew 7:6

Sometimes we try in vain to help people who don’t appreciate the help we are offering them. When we try to help people like this, they are so ungrateful that it almost feels like they spit in our faces. When we give them helpful hints about how to do something better or attempt to warn them of a catastrophe that is headed in their direction, these people are so bullheaded that they refuse to listen!

When my wife and I were young in the ministry, we embraced everyone and gave our whole hearts to anyone who said they needed help. Often we invested ourselves, our time, and our money into people who didn’t have a job and didn’t even want to work, but who knew how to pull on our heart-strings to help them. Eventually my wife and I learned the hard lesson, as everyone must, that there comes a time when we have to stop throwing away our time and attention on people who don’t care.

Yes, these people are precious, and you need to treat each of them as a unique creation of God. But your gifts are also precious, and you need to be valued and appreciated as well. If you have given again and again to the same people, but they consistently refuse to appreciate or value what you have given them, you need to respect yourself enough to quit giving away the precious things of your life to people who don’t even care.

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2In Matthew 7:6, Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” When I was younger, this verse bothered me terribly because I didn’t like the idea of thinking of people as “dogs” and “swine.” Yet these are the words that Jesus used to describe the behavior of a certain category of people. Why did He use such strong words? What message was Jesus trying to give us when He said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs…”?

Let’s look at this verse today. Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine…” (Matthew 7:6). The word “give” is the Greek word didomi, which means to give, but here it is used with a negative, and the tense used in the Greek grammar should be taken as a command. This means the verse should be translated, “Never give.…” It emphatically declares that this is something that should never be done!

The word “holy” is the word hagios, which refers to something that is so hallowed that you would consider it to be very precious. So Jesus’ words should be translated, “Never give what is hallowed and precious to the dogs.…”  Once again, there is no room for misunderstanding here — Jesus said this should never be done!

When the Lord referred to “that which is holy,” he was speaking of those precious and holy things that God has done inside you. It may be the hard lessons you’ve learned as you’ve submitted to the dealings of God in your life; the insights you’ve gained over the years; or the wisdom you have amassed as the result of years of experience. It may also refer to the spiritual gifts that operate in your life. All these things are holy and valuable. It’s impossible to put a price tag on that which has cost you your life. Who can measure the tears, pain, and energy spent to gain those revelations and the lessons you have learned?

When you open your heart and share these holy things with someone else, you are opening the door to your most private treasures. When you begin to share details, secrets, insights, and wisdom that you’ve learned through the hard knocks of life and from the Spirit of God, it is a precious gift you are giving. You should never underestimate the tremendous value God places on the experience and wisdom you’ve gained. These are holy things.

Every time you break open the Word of God and share the principles, lessons, and insights you’ve gained as you have dealt with your own heart and sought to do God’s will, you are giving out precious things to those who listen. This is why Jesus ordered that you are “never to give that which is hallowed and precious to the dogs.”

But who are the dogs that Jesus is referring to in this verse? The word “dogs” comes from the Greek word kunun, which is the same word used to describe the vicious, wild, unclean dogs that roamed the countryside just outside the city of Jerusalem. These dogs were famous for pillaging the garbage dump outside the city where unclaimed dead bodies were thrown to rot or to be eaten by dogs and hungry vultures (see April 23).

These dogs were not tamed pets, but an out-of-control, wild, dangerous, wandering, nomadic collection of diseased, mangy dogs. Even worse, they were always trying to get into people’s houses and gardens where they could find better food. To prevent the dogs from getting in where they weren’t supposed to be, walls often had to be built as defenses to keep them out!

Sadly, there are some people who behave just like dogs, and apparently Jesus had encountered some of them. That is the reason He used the example of wild dogs to depict this category of people.

Jesus was referring to a type of people who are undomesticated and untamed. These are people who refuse to submit to anyone’s authority. They roam about like nomads, wandering from one church to the next, using and abusing one pastor after another. Out of control and beyond the reach of anyone’s authority, these people are constantly trying to get into places where they shouldn’t be allowed.

Jesus’ choice of words in this verse conveys this idea:

“Never give that which is hallowed and precious to wild, dangerous, out-of-control, wandering, nomadic, diseased, and mangy dogs….”

This tells you and me that before we open our hearts and begin to share our deepest experiences and most precious inner treasures — before we draw certain individuals close to us and invest our time and energy into them — we need to be certain that these are people who are serious about their walk with God. Our time and our treasures are too precious to throw them at the feet of people who don’t care and who won’t apply what we are trying to tell them.

Have you been putting your time and energy into someone who is bullheaded and resists you every step of the way? Does that person stubbornly defy your suggestions and act offended every time you try to help him? If so, maybe it’s time for you to turn your attention to someone else who is openhearted and who truly has a genuine desire to learn from you.

As I noted earlier, eventually there comes a time when you must stop wasting your time and attention on people who don’t care. You can pray for them, love them, and believe for God to work in their lives. But if they don’t demonstrate a sincere desire to learn, to receive from you, and to soak up the rich wisdom you are trying to impart into their lives, it’s time for you to stop trying to make them receive what they need and turn your attention elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you cease to love these people, but it does mean their reactions to you have revealed the true level of the relationship.

Open your eyes! The Holy Spirit will lead you to someone who is hungry and ready to learn! Release the person you’ve been trying to push and to force into changing against his will. If that person doesn’t want to change, you can’t make it happen. Instead, let the Lord lead you to those who are already praying and crying out for God to send someone like you to them!

sparking gems from the greek

My Prayer for Today

Lord, I am asking You to help me discern when the holy things I share are being appreciated and valued, and when I am being ignored by those I am trying to help. Forgive me for investing too much of myself into people who aren’t committed to applying what I have to teach them. I just wanted the best for them, and that’s why it’s been so hard for me to let them go. But today I am making a decision to start viewing myself, my experience, and my wisdom as treasures to be valued and held in esteem. From this moment onward, I ask You to help me invest these treasures into people who will listen, take what I have to share deeply into their hearts, and then apply those truths to their lives.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

sparking gems from the greek

My Confession for Today

I confess that God has done wonderful things in my life that are a great blessing to others! I have something to share because Jesus has taught me so much. I am careful about what I say, and I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me to those I can open my heart to and pour out these treasures. God is helping me to be wiser about what I share and with whom I share it!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

sparking gems from the greek

Questions to Answer

1. Can you relate to today’s Sparkling Gem? Have you ever opened up and poured out your heart to someone who you later discovered really did take what you said to heart? How did that experience affect you?

2. Have you ever kept hanging on to someone who was less concerned about his own spiritual growth than you were?

3. Have you ever been guilty of the negative attitudes and actions I’ve described today? Can you think of a time when someone tried to help and teach you, but out of pride you stubbornly resisted the help God was trying to freely offer you through that person?