Have you ever had the experience where you have the same thing happening over and over in different contexts? Almost like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Eventually, you realize that maybe God is trying to get your attention and teach you something. Or maybe you’re a lot smarter than me and it doesn’t take multiple underscores for you to see that something is important. I tend to be dense.
One of the lessons God has been emphasizing in my life lately is that of Pearls and Pigs. I hesitate to call people pigs, but this is Jesus’ word (you are probably used to hearing “swine”). I don’t think that He’s calling people pigs, just using pigs as an illustration of His point.
Here’s what He said: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not 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.
Interestingly, this is in a passage that starts, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” It certainly sounds judgmental to think of some people as pigs, doesn’t it? But what Jesus is calling for here is not condemnation, but rather discernment. It’s not a matter of thinking that we’re better than someone else or superior. It’s a matter of using what He has given us wisely. Being discerning doesn’t mean being snobby. It just means being intentional and doing what makes the most sense, paying attention to what you are doing.
For me, it goes like this. I’m nearly 57 years old. Pushing 60. I have definitely reached the top of my hill and am on my way down. My days are limited. My end is near(er). I don’t expect to die anytime soon. I expect to live into my 90s or 100s, based on my family history. But what I’m saying is that I’m no longer under the youthful illusion that I have unlimited time. I’ve hit that point in life where I strongly sense that I need to make every moment count.
One of the enjoyable things for me in life has been pouring my life — my time, my resources, my efforts — into other people. One of the most distressing (quite possibly THE most) has been seeing those sacrifices wasted. It recently occurred to me that this is what Jesus meant: Pigs don’t appreciate pearls. It’s not just that those sacrifices were unappreciated, they have been belittled, interpreted as something opposite … and those I have sacrificed for have turned against me and torn me apart.
I had this happen several times in one day. It was one of those surreal days when you kind of feel like you’re watching your life, rather than participating in it. I didn’t feel angry or upset or hurt. It was just like, “Hmmm, that’s what Jesus meant. Okay, now I get it!” It was an AHA moment of major proportions.
I didn’t feel like I needed to defend myself or fight back or complain — as I have in the past. It was just a simple recognition that this is not where I should focus my time and efforts any more. There was an incredible freedom.
I think the frustration and distress I had felt before was because I thought that I had to keep throwing my pearls to the pigs. Can you imagine having a beautiful pearl necklace and giving some to the pigs you’re raising, only to have them trample the pearls in the mud? But you keep giving them more and more pearls? It would definitely be distressing, wouldn’t it?
What if you instead found someone who really loved pearls, who wanted them and would appreciate them and use them? Someone who would get great joy from them and whose life would be richer for having the pearls? What if you gave the pearls to them?
Not only would you feel better, but the pearls would be valued and put to use, rather than being ruined and unappreciated. Not to mention that the person would probably also appreciate you … not tear you to pieces like the pigs who don’t like having pearls underfoot.
It was such a paradigm shift for me. Ignore what the world and even church says about whom I should give my pearls to. Instead, take Jesus’ words to heart and give my pearls to those who want and will benefit from them. Search these people out and treat them to something they will value and which they will profit from. What an amazing relief!
Kinda funny how much better we feel when we take God’s Word to heart, isn’t it? I currently have some of those people in my life and I look forward to pouring more than ever into their lives. I have my eyes wide open, looking for more. I also know that the way God works, the more pearls I give away, the more He’ll provide me with to give to more. What could be more fun?
Isaiah Cadre Discussion/Journal questions:
- What are the “pearls” God has given you? (Think of your talents, your resources, your passions.)
- How have you been using your pearls? To whom have you been giving them?
- How’s that working for you? Are the pearls being put to good use or are you getting torn to shreds?
- Is there anything you need to change? If it’s going well, is there any way you can present those pearls in an even more powerful manner? If you’re getting torn up, how can you dust yourself off and start looking for more appropriate ways to use your pearls?