Monday, November 2, 2015


Sermon on the Mount (pt. 17)

Immediately after telling us that we are not to judge, Jesus embarks on an animal husbandry discourse.

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. (Mat 7:6)

Does He truly think that people will give their pearls to pigs?
Of course not.

Surely He is referring to some type of person, a character defect or something of the sort.

Well, then, if that is the case, how am I supposed to recognize these types of individuals?

Do they bark, or snort? Again, the answer is, “NO.”

After telling me that I am not to judge, He tells me that I’ve got to understand how to make distinctions.

Isn’t making a distinction in reality making a judgment?
Of course, it is.

Are we here presented with a difficulty? Quandary? Conundrum?

To the literal mind incapable of making the finer distinctions between the good and the not-so-good, yes. It poses a problem.

To the one who needs their life outlined and separated into either black or white, yes, this is a problem.

On the one hand we are told not to judge in verse one. Then in verse six, we are told to make distinctions about to whom we give what.

This is a level of maturity that many among God’s people fail to reach (Heb. 5:14).

Learning to “discern between good and evil” is not so much about knowing the difference between pornography and portraiture, but about differences much finer than that—the distinction between the good and the best.

Don’t let what might be a good thing become the enemy of the best thing.

Followers of Jesus tend to be generous with their knowledge. Many tend to be generous with their possessions or money.

How can we know to what Jesus was referring here?
We can’t.

Take the time to read through just a few commentaries on verse six and you will see little agreement as to interpretation of dogs and swine.

However, you will find much agreement with the idea that I have presented here. We MUST be able to discern the quality of the people with whom we associate.

Not only do we have the example of Jesus doing this—as in “thou hypocrite!”—but we have plenty of verses telling us how to live with such distinctions. (1 Cor. 15:33; Pro. 14:7) [and the myriad verses in Proverbs alone concerning how we should relate to a fool.]

As we consider the entire passage as a whole, rather than breaking it up into smaller bites of legalistic expertise, we can see that living the Christian life as a follower of Jesus is not something for which we have a list of rules telling us how to behave in any given situation.

We do, however, have a major guideline by which we would do well to consider in each and every situation in our lives:

Love God
Love your neighbor

As Paul told his young disciple, Timothy, the goal of any and all commandments is “love from a pure heart.” (1 Tim. 1:5)

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