Truth is Precious–Handle with Care

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6 Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:1-6).

Consider, first of all, that this verse 6 comes after a brief but powerful rebuke of judgmental hypocrisy. The Lord uses a quite humorous variation on hyperbole to condemn those who insist on judging others on minutia, despite the accuser himself having mammoth spiritual flaws, perhaps namely the pride which leads him to such judgmental Christianity. [That needs no comment to discover its relevance to today’s church, though perhaps a discussion on Why Christians Aren’t “Perfect” is needed]

Then, Christ gives advice reminiscent of Proverbs 9:7-8 and Proverbs 23:9. The Christian needs to be careful whom he “corrects” or to whom he gives counsel. Clearly, Christ ate with “sinners.” He could not be accused of being judgmental or hypocritical. In fact, he stood up to those who were, and Christ came to show us the Father (who reconciles mercy and justice perfectly, John 14:7-9). On the heels of teaching his disciples not to practice judgmental hypocrisy, the Lord teaches a maxim about whom to counsel …or rather, whom NOT to counsel.

The context of this verse and definitions/usage of the words “dogs” and “pigs” must be understood before one can gather the verse’s relevance to the 21st Century church. According to Louw-Nida and other lexicons, “dog” connotes a pervert or even a male prostitute. One gathers that a dog is one who acts on the basest of animalistic tendencies, led and governed by his glandular/hormonal drives or without any consideration of noble life. Yet, in other passages, dog is used once to describe gentiles (Mt. 15:26) as those outside of the time-sensitive priority of Christ’s ministry to Israel. Later in the Scriptures, one notices references to “dog” made, being the analogous point to one (particularly false prophets and utterly shameless, licentious persons) who returns to sin time after time…and for that matter the pig is referenced (2 Pet. 2:22 & context).

I am a proponent of giving the gospel and/or biblical counsel or Christian apologetic to whomever will listen. However, recently, the church has been much busied by combating the agendas of the immoral within our society by showing resistance (ex. Fox News) instead of putting their faith in action toward things that make for peace and a quiet life (1 Thess. 4:11; Heb. 12:14). Polemics have their place. However, more than not, it has only gotten Christians the attack of which Christ spoke in Matt. 7:6. The answer is apologetics, or answering someone with a reason when the faith is attacked first (1 Pet. 3:15; Titus 1:9).

Likewise, within the church setting (as the cross reference in 2 Peter 2 and Jude indicate) there may be those who insist on their immoral behavior in unrepentant and shameless ways, even justifying themselves and corrupting others. Christ does not say they should be ignored. He says only that it is not worth the time of day to argue with them or to devote what is holy and valuable to them. The answer is to contend for the faith within the church with apologetics and with Holy Spirit empowered prayer and discerning compassion (Jude 1:1-4, 20-22). All this should be done with the understanding that no one can threaten a Christian’s holiness (Jude 1:24-25), because true holiness is partaking of the divine nature.

I hold that it does not require a superior level of discernment to realize when someone (a “dog” or “pig,” as Christ calls them) is only interested in attacking a person who offers things holy or of worth (according to a biblical worldview). Furthermore, why should a Christian be surprised to receive attack when he treats someone contrary to Christ’s character and command? That animosity is actually fairly easy to spot–it is the same social/relational tact that we use everyday with nearly every relationship, and tactlessness should be avoided…. Don’t make a scene and don’t make an issue when you know the person will not be changed by your words. I believe that was Christ’s point, and it was consequently mine too. In the end, we are increasingly surrounded by those who are ready to attack “traditional values” (as they are commonly called in secular circles) and malign those who hold them as being intolerant or uneducated. Ironic, then, that the church wants to keep going back to the argument in the public forum, when Christ said not to do it.

I gather that the solution is not to battle moral issues in the public forum, but rather, to confidently and quietly resolve to voting (practical side) and to prayer and giving the gospel to those whose heart God has opened (spiritual side); and by simply doing good things (Matthew 5:13-16) for everyone we meet with the caveat [private or spoken] that says, “though the morality of others is not condoned, one can perform any action in the name of Christ” (spiritual and practical side).

Hurray for apologetics! But, polemics must be used in moderation and with discernment and must never be the result of broad brushing people groups or treating people without common graciousness and kindness. Rather, we must make the decision to take moral stands one-at-a-time, with plenty of grace and mercy and discernment, and one person at-a-time. Before you speak or “take a stand,” make sure you are free from your own pride and reputation, and consider if the person or situation in front of you is going to see the truth as something precious… or will they turn and rend you. That is my point, and I believe it was Christ’s.

For a further biblical example, Daniel did not openly debate (or even openly protest) Hebrew custom of lentils vs. unclean meats OR statue/king worship vs. open prayer to Yahweh. In the matters open to him, he made respectful appeals. But in things which flatly disobeyed God, Daniel did not debate or protest the king or the magi which plotted against him. He graciously and trustingly did what he knew was his mission to do, ready to receive the consequence. He kept focus; made less talk, made more of faith-filled obedience and prayer.

All in all, the truth is precious. It is not to be handled by judgmental hypocrites; and it is not to be given to those who care nothing for its worth. In both cases, nothing is profited, nothing is gained–there would be only loss.

 

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Christians and Moral Ethics — An Open Letter

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