“Dogs” in this context do not refer to common household pets, but rather, to wild scavengers. Likewise, “swine” refer to wild and vicious hogs, capable of savage action.
Both animals were considered “unclean” (Leviticus 11:7; Proverbs 26:11) and in this context represent people who are hostile to God and the things of God.
God’s Word is “holy” and its truths, like “pearls,” are precious. Therefore, Jesus instructs us to use discernment when sharing God’s Holy Word and precious truths.Just as we would never give something we consider “holy” or “sacred” to a stray dog, or throw our precious “pearls” to filthy swine, likewise, we shouldn’t waste our time sharing God’s truth with those who have adamantly chosen to reject it.
This is what Jesus meant when instructed His disciples, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14). Why? Because: “The one who listens to you listens to Me,” says Jesus, “and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
Everyone has a choice. They can either trust Christ or they can reject Christ. As Christians we are simply responsible to share the good news of Christ; we are not responsible for how people choose to respond to the gospel.
Nevertheless, when some “turn and tear you to pieces” or “trample” God’s truth under their feet, Jesus instructs you to leave them alone. They are not ready to receive God’s truth and arguing will only make things worse!
Someone has said, “It’s better to lose an argument and win a soul, than to win an argument and lose a soul.” Thus, Jesus says, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
Only the Holy Spirit can prepare a heart to receive the good news of Jesus Christ: “But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them, because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means” (New Living Translation 1996).
(Jessie J. Charpentier Sr. is pastor of Jenkins Memorial Baptist Church in St. Martinville.)