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Friday, April 7, 2017

Sermon on the Mount, Day 33 of 40: Pearls to Pigs

Matthew 7: 6
Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

These verses seem to say that the gospel and its message of God's love, mercy, grace and forgiveness are exclusive and should not be shared with people who are considered to be dogs and swine.  Would this not contradict the previous verses in which Jesus told His disciples not to judge?

A similar statement is found in the Old Testament, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).  The Pharisees used this to justify the exclusion of the gentiles to their faith.  The early church used this verse and Matthew 7: 6 to exclude certain beliefs that were considered heresy and to reserve sacraments like communion only for members of the church.

There are certain people who are not yet ready to hear the word.  In fact, any mention of the gospel makes them angry.  Their minds are closed to words.  But their hearts are still searching.  What they  need is an example of faith, to experience faith through the actions of others.

We are not to judge these people but continue to love them; to pray for them and to offer them mercy, forgiveness and peace.  Hopefully our example will reach them where our words cannot.

There was a man that I knew in my youth who was a one man welcoming committee at our church.  Each Sunday he could be seen shaking hands, laughing and smiling at people who were coming through the doors.  He made everyone feel welcome and glad to be there.  

One Sunday I was fortunate to hear his testimony.  He said that he had been living in a room in a boarding house, down on his luck, drinking a lot, without a friend in the world.  But every Sunday morning, the woman who owned the house would climb the stairs to his room and knock on his door and ask if he would like to go to church with her.  He would yell, "No" through the door and he could hear her footsteps walking slowly down the stairs.  This happened each Sunday for over a year.

Then one Sunday morning, as he heard her footsteps coming up the stairs, he decided he would go with her.  And on that Sunday, he found a new life and a new reason for living.  "All this happened because she showed me the love of Christ over and over every Sunday, even though I rejected it.  If it was not for her persistence, her example, I would not be here."

Tomorrow we study ask, seek, knock.

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