Jan 20th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 9 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill, and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to talk about holiness, pearls, dogs, and swine.
There’s this passage in Matthew that I’ve read repeatedly over the years that the last verse of seems misplaced. It’s chapter 7:1-6, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the splinter out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.”
Verses one through five seem to be about a live and let live while you better yourself mantra and then suddenly Jesus pivots to not giving holiness to dogs or pearls to swine. Given how Jesus communicates, it’s much more likely that verse six is actually the context for verses one through five.
Maybe Paul can give us some clarity, in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 he wrote, “For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
I drove by a man this week holding a big sign at an intersection that read “The Good Shepherd John 10:11.” This particular verse reads, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” While I commend the effort to share the message of the gospel, the whole point here is that the message he is preaching with his sign is mostly lost on his audience of goats. A metaphor of a good shepherd more or less falls on deaf ears to those who don’t live in an agrarian society, or who haven’t spent time in the church.
I believe this is the concept Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7. There’s an entry in the Pulpit Commentary whose credit is given to a W.F.A. that reads, “At the first blush of it this reads more like a motto of the scribes than a proverb from the large-hearted Christ. It is quite as important to see what it does not mean as to lay hold of its positive teaching, because we are all tempted to abuse it in order to excuse our narrowness and selfishness.
I. MISAPPRENSIONS OF THE PROVERB.
1. In neglect of the poor. This is the most gross and insulting abuse of the principle which can be thought of. No one would venture to express it in so many words when he was thus misdirecting it. Yet virtually such an application of it is very common. It is thought that any coarse fare will be good enough for the poor; not only coarse food and clothes, but coarse treatment, coarse methods of religion, coarse amusements, and the ministration of coarse men. To bring works of art and good music to "the lower classes" is thought to be wasteful. Refined people are not to spend themselves on the common people. This is Pharisaism without its religion—the pride of the cultivated Roman with the bitterness of the scornful Pharisee.
2. In contempt of the illiterate. The Gnostics reserved their choicest ideas for the inner circle of the initiated. Ignorant people might walk by faith; Gnostics had attained to knowledge. This is not the religion of Christ. He rejoices that God reveals his best truth to babes and sucklings.
3. In despair of the sinful. We are tempted to shrink from speaking of Christ to the very lowest people. It looks like a profanation to set the treasures of the gospel before them. They can hear the Law that condemns their sin; the beautiful thoughts of God’s grace in Christ are too good for them. This, too, is unchristian. Christ brought his good tidings to all men, and the first to leap up and grasp it were the publicans, the sinners, and the harlots.”
The whole point being that as Christians we have the way, the truth, and the light. When we go to share that light, we have to do so with respect for those we are trying to reach and taking into consideration the best way to share the Gospel that will actually reach their hearts. Like Paul was expressing in 1 Corinthians, the Jews wanted signs and the Greeks Wisdom. It’s our job to figure out which and minister accordingly.
Now, thankfully Paul goes on, “Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” It’s our responsibility to minister with respect and to do that work of figuring out the best way to minister the Gospel, and at the same time the Holy Spirit goes ahead of us and works on their hearts. So that when were not perfect, when we’ve done our best and our best wasn’t good enough. That the power of God and the wisdom of God that is Christ fills in those gaps.
Take all that into consideration, and go out and love on people. Just love ‘em.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”