Locked Doors, Secret Codes and Parables for Mission

Matthew 7:6 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.

This is a seemingly ambiguous verse between two different topics.

Prior to this verse, we read about taking the beam out of your eye before removing the mote from your brother's eye.

Afterwards, we read about asking, seeking, and knocking and receiving good gifts from God.

In the middle, we have a warning, a teaching, and a principle: Don't give holy things to dogs and don't cast pearls before swine.

The Bible doesn't have nice things to say about dogs.

They are described as wicked (psalm 22:16), dumb (Isaiah 56:10), greedy (Isaiah 56:11), Gentiles, (Matthew 15:26), and enemies to beware of (Philippians 3:2).

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Swine were labeled as unclean animals in the Pentateuch and were a symbol of defilement and filthiness.

Let's break down this section.

Jesus first instructs us how to remove something unclean from our brother's life. We first examine our own life to see if we are unclean ourselves. Then we will be able to clearly remove the mote from our brother's eye.

After he talks about dogs and swine.

Finally, he encourages us to ask, seek, and knock because God will answer us with good things.

And then Jesus says verse 12:

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

What's the connection here?

I believe there is a reason Jesus used parables about beams, dogs, swine, and doors to teach on spiritual matters.

The disciples asked Jesus pointedly why he spoke in parables.

Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Parables are told to sift out who understands mysteries and who doesn't. It's like giving a message in coding so that the enemy doesn't know your secrets. It's like speaking in a language they don't understand when you want to communicate to people who share your mother tongue.

Did you ever have to excuse yourself so you can talk privately to your friend? Maybe you were trying to buy something and wanted to ask if it's a good deal or not, but you didn't want to offend the seller. Living abroad, I can speak Chinese and English, so in this context, I can switch to English to get someone's opinion without the seller understanding what I'm saying. Parables are kind of like that, except it's not the language they don't understand, it's the true meaning and interpretation.

Non-Jews wouldn't refer to themselves as dogs. We always view others as wicked, but are reluctant to admit our own wickedness. If you tell someone not to give something Holy to dogs, most people won't assume they are the dog you're referring to.

Only one time we have an instance where Jesus called someone a dog to their face and that person acknowledged the truth of it. A Canaanite woman came to Jesus asking for her daughter to be healed.

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

She understood the truth of Jesus' words, humbled herself, and showed the faith that amazed Jesus. This is what parables can do: They can sift out who is ready to hear, humble themselves, and believe the truth the parable is speaking into.

If you're trying to remove something from a brother's life, you will have to give them Holy things and cast your pearls before them. Holy things are those set apart for a special purpose and pearls are costly and rare treasures. Pearls are much more valuable than what is called common and should be guarded and protected carefully. These things are the foundation for the abundant life Jesus talked about and the answer to removing the mote from your brother's eye.

If you go through the process to remove the beam from your eye, it will be painful, but the end result will be a life of freedom and the treasures of Holy things and pearls. These are the things of God that set people free and into the truth. Now you are ready to remove the mote from your brother's eye, but first consider this:

Matthew 7:6 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.

If they are greedy for gain, wicked with ill-intent, or enemies, they will tear you apart for the scandal you're offering. Or, they will defile the message and turn the purity of your treasure into filth. What will be the end result?

The answer, however, is not to walk away or ignore them, assuming they won't listen to your words. Instead, the answer is in speaking parables to test their hearts and see if the Holy Spirit speaks into their lives with the truth of your message.

After talking about dogs and swine, Jesus turns the direction of the conversation back towards us. He immediately moves from giving gifts to others into receiving them from God. He tells us to ask and seek from God, who will give us good gifts.

It's as if Jesus is telling us a truth, namely that removing beams in our own eyes and motes in our brother's eye as well as not flippantly giving sacred treasures to dogs and swine who will just turn and attack us is the precursor to receiving, finding, and doors being opened to us. We ourselves have been faithful in protecting the valuables of the kingdom of heaven, and now the King is blessing us with the power to unlock doors and walk into new areas of freedom and faithfulness.

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

However you want others to treat you, then treat them like that. We treat others as we want them to treat us. How do you want others to come to you, talk with you, and walk with you? Think about that answer, and then do likewise, especially when you encounter people you believe to be dogs and swine. This is what is known as the golden rule, and it applied to judging, correcting and instructing in spiritual matters.

This is the incredible power of Jesus' parables. We're called to be slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to anger and full of mercy. Beams tell of our own sin, dogs and swine tell us to protect what we hold sacred, and doors are to be opened. We build bigger networks by walking out the truth and calling others to do the same, always checking our own life first and then encouraging, challenging and inviting others into the same by sharing in parables the secrets of the kingdom.

This is the method Jesus used to speak to the crowds. It's profound, multi-faceted and full of wisdom and truth. Now, we can follow in His steps.

Share a parable and discover how the secret coding of the mission field gets you into locked doors.

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