Jesus has been teaching about reliance on God. He said that we should not worry about our lives, about what to eat or drink, or what we should wear, but rather instead focus on our Father’s Kingdom and His righteousness.
We can all recognize each other falling short in these regards, but He also tells us not to judge each other. Returning to His main theme (of focus on God first, God always), Jesus makes an interesting statement, “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 then turn and tear you to pieces.”
It is easy to pick that statement out of context and spiritualize the daylight out of it. But that would be unfair to the Lord who gave it to us in context. To see the truth and value of Jesus’ statement we need to see it in the context in which He gave it to us, and that context is teaching about the mundane things of life (eating and drinking and clothing), our penchant to misapply what God teaches (the plank in our eye) and the priority of God and His Kingdom (seek first).
The food we eat and the water we drink without thinking can be helpful in replenishing our energy, but on account of its dedication to God, the food and drink we thank God for at every meal is actually sacred. After all, it is not (ideally) made as an exercise in utility or as an exercise in vanity. It is prepared specifically that it should be brought in to someone made in the image of God (and as we later find out, our bodies are actually temples of the Holy Spirit – for the Bible teaches, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…”). It is paid for and then sacrificed explicitly for the use of God’s people. Consequently, the effort, expense and care to prepare food and drink should be understood as doing something to purposefully advance God’s Kingdom. Indeed, doing anything less is not unlike taking sacred food and giving it to street dogs. They care nothing for the effort put into it, or the meaning or intention of the meal they are fed. Street dogs only greedily snap it up without consideration, and when it is gone and their appetites inflamed, they snap at the hands that fed them, “Do not give dogs what is sacred… If you do, they may …then turn and tear you to pieces.” And anyone who has worked hard to serve a meal to an ungrateful individual can testify to that.
Likewise, the clothing we buy to cover and protect our bodies is useful and helpful. What then of the watches, earrings, belts and other jewelry we wear? Jesus notes that the cost and intention is again best set toward God’s Kingdom, not toward personal vanity. It should not be squandered merely to impress pagans. That’s like throwing expensive jewelry to pigs. What do they care for it? “Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet.” And anyone who has specifically picked out clothes to impress others (perhaps at a party of some kind) only to later find those same people mocking them knows exactly what that feels like.
Of course, Jesus isn’t saying that the mundane parts of life (like eating and drinking and wearing clothes) are unimportant, or that the daily small decisions we make about such things needs to be a matter of intense prayerful discernment. Far from it. But He is telling us that the effort, cost and consideration given to every matter of life should purposefully advance the Kingdom of God and His righteousness – either within us or around us.
One commentator noted, “Jesus is once again commending a radically theocentric vision of life.” Our lives are created by Him, sustained by Him and redeemed by Him. Our lives must therefore be about honouring Him, always and in all ways. The disciple’s life in all ways must reflect the master, so Jesus would have us to live radically God-centred lives. Amen.
We express our belief system in the daily decisions we make and the behaviors in which we engage.Knute Larson
Is there thankfulness to God in your heart as you prepare your daily meals? As you eat them? As you clean up afterward? Are you grateful for His provision as you pick out what to wear each day and as you do laundry?