Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6 BSB
cast pearls before swine
to offer something valuable or good to someone who does not know it’s value:I’m afraid you’re casting pearls before swine with your good advice – he won’t listen.
from: CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY
The symbolism of dogs and pigs refers to those who reject God. All of us have fit into this category at some time.
This verse is about wasting things of value on people who have already displayed no interest. They not only won’t appreciate hearing more, but may even become offended and even more resistant.
Sometimes it may be confusing for a believer to know when to speak or not. Especially since we are told to be witnesses and spread the Gospel message. But Jesus did not chase people down and beg them to follow Him. For example, the rich young ruler in Mark chapter 10. When this young man rejected what Jesus said and then walked sadly away, Jesus didn’t chase after him and keep trying to convince him.
Jesus invited. He didn’t force. People have free will to ignore His invitation.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV
People who have no interest or appreciation for the things of God see the message of the cross as foolishness, rather than something holy and precious and of great value to be searched for. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,…” Matthew 13:45 ESV
They really have no appetite for the Gospel message and often they will make fun of what we are trying to tell them, (maybe not to our face, but perhaps when they speak to others with scoff about ‘religion’ and the things we have said.)
When Jesus taught with parables, the truth didn’t get through to those whose hearts had become hardened and did not want to receive it. The truth was ‘hidden’ from them. That doesn’t sound like He was trying to convince those He saw had hardened hearts. But those who ‘hungered and thirsted’ to know more were given more:
…..“The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables, 12 so that, ‘ they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding;….. Mark 4:11,12 BSB
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
12. that seeing they may see, and not perceive At the beginning of His ministry our Lord did not teach by Parables. “The Sermon on the Mount may be taken as the type of the ‘words of grace’ which He spake ‘not as the Scribes.’ Beatitudes, laws, promises were uttered distinctly, not indeed without similitudes, but with similitudes that explained themselves.” And so He continued for some time. But His direct teaching was met with scorn, unbelief, and hardness. From this time forward “parables” entered largely into His recorded teaching, and were at once attractive and penal. (a) Attractive, as “instruments of education for those who were children in age or character,” and offering in a striking form much for the memory to retain, and for the docile and truth-loving to learn; (b) Penal, as testing the disposition of those who listened to them; withdrawing the light FROM SUCH AS LOVED DARKNESS and were WILFULLY blind, and protecting the truth from the mockery of the scoffer; finding out the fit hearers, and leading them, but them only, on to deeper knowledge. See Article on Parables in Smith’s Bible Dict.
11Whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy there and stay at his house until you move on. 12As you enter the home, greet its occupants. 13If the home is worthy, let your peace rest on it; but if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14And if anyone will not welcome you or heed your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. Matt. 10:11-14 BSB
When Jesus sent the disciples out, they were to ‘shake the dust off their feet’ if the message was rejected, and move on to find fertile soil.
Yes, we are told to try to reach the lost, but Jesus seems to point out the difference between those willing to hear versus those who are just not interested. We may think that it is an act of love, when we continually try to convince them. But sometimes God wants us to move on to look for those who do want to hear.
Jesus referred to those who rejected Him as dogs or pigs. In Biblical times, dogs were not domesticated, but were more like wild creatures, scavenging for food. If you toss a precious gem to a wild animal, it is of no value or interest to them and will most likely end up ignored at their feet and trampled on. (For example, if you had an expensive gold ring w/diamonds on your finger, and you took it off and tossed it to a dog, he would probably sniff if briefly, then turn away and even walk over it as though it was just another pebble in the dirt.) And if the animal was really hungry and anticipating a chunk of meat or something, all you would be doing is making it angry. Likewise, you might even end up receiving a nasty attack from those with a real disdain toward Christianity,
Jesus’ purpose wasn’t about demeaning people when He referred to them this way, but He was using an illustration using things that were familiar in those times, to tell Christians not to waste time or invite insult from people who saw no value in the Gospel Message.
We are not to waste God’s valuable pearls in futility, but to leave such people in God’s hands, knowing that He can get through to them.
But what if, for some reason, the disciples did not leave that town? What if they were continually around these people who were not interested in the Gospel? Should they have kept chasing after them with their words?
How should we act around people that we are near almost all of the time? Sometimes our actions and lives will speak, when our words are not welcome. For example, in 1 Peter 3:1 Christian wives are told that even if an unbelieving husband refuses to believe the word, he may be won over without words by her behavior.
from John MacArthur: How to Win Your Unbelieving Spouse
…he (Peter) doesn’t tell her to preach at him. He doesn’t tell her to argue with him. He doesn’t tell her to harangue about the gospel. He doesn’t tell her to put Bible verses on the bottom of his beer cans. He doesn’t tell her to stick evangelistic tracts under the pillow in his bed. He doesn’t tell her to badger him about the gospel. He doesn’t tell her to call her pastor and have the pastor come to the house some night when she knows he’s home alone, loaded with all his guns. Peter doesn’t tell her that. He doesn’t say glue Bible verses on the refrigerator. He doesn’t say anything like that….
Sometimes, “Your life is the only Bible some people ever will read.”
The following is from: Got Questions?
We are to share the gospel, but, when it becomes apparent that the gospel is not welcome, we are to move on. We are responsible to share the good news; we are not responsible for people’s response to the good news. Pigs don’t appreciate pearls, and some people don’t appreciate what Christ has done for them. Our job is not to force conversions or cram the gospel down people’s throats; there’s no sense in preaching the value of pearls to swine. Jesus’ instruction to His apostles on how to handle rejection was to simply go elsewhere. There are other people who need to hear the gospel, and they are ready to hear it.
This is not about keeping quiet out of fear, embarrassment or intimidation. It is about discernment and trying to understand what God is conveying to us.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,….. Romans 1:16 ESV