In Matthew 7:1-5, our Lord has been preaching on judgment. He tells us not to judge others; and whenever we try to correct another we must first look at and purify ourselves, then we can see clearly to help them.
In the sixth verse, most bibles put this verse in a special paragraph on its own. But D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests that that is not right, that it should connect to the previous five verses, that it is the final statement on judgment. Indeed, I agree. It tells the spiritual Christian how he must judge another—with “a spirit of discrimination.” So, Jesus says in verse six…
Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
What is meant here? First of all, pearls are the Christian message. And the dogs and the swine are all that is unholy and unclean, or all those who are unworthy to hear the Christian message. And we know that all of us have sinned, but in this context, Jesus was referring to those sinners who reject the gospel and the truth of God and those who hate Him and even snarl at the message of His truth.
So, Jesus is telling us that we ought not to just spread His word of truth to everyone, but only to those who are worthy of it—or who are seeking it. This may come as a surprise to some people. Some may say that since God loves all people, all should hear the gospel. But the end of verse six gives an explanation of why not. Jesus says that some who hear the gospel will “trample them [our words] under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” In short, they reject the truth and even do damage to it and to you.
If you need an example of this, we can look at Jesus teaching. First, we can compare how He answered Pilate with Herod, in Luke 23:3 and 9. With Pilate, in verse three, Jesus answered him; but with Herod, in verse nine, he answered him nothing. Why? Because Jesus judged Pilate to be a genuine seeker of truth, but He knew that Herod cared nothing for the truth. He knew it by his attitude. And there are other examples. Many times Jesus would not speak to the Pharisees, or at least answer their questions. He instead would go and minister to the Gentiles and to the sinners, as also Paul did.
In all our evangelism efforts and when we seek to teach the truth to people, we should always learn who we are talking to, to see if they are worthy of hear us. Here are three sets of instructions that may be helpful to you in your speaking to others.
- Learn to know what to give each person in each particular situation.
- Learn to know the way to present the truth to each person. Learn to assess people.
- Learn which aspect of truth is appropriate in each particular case.
Also, know that our presentation to unbelievers must be different than to believers. An unbeliever only needs one thing, the doctrine of justification by faith. They need only to know of their sinful life and their need of salvation. Any other bit of truth will have no meaning to them; or we should say that they will take it wrong because of their unregenerated state.
To believers, some have a need for basic truth only—the milk of the word; others should be fed more solid food—the meat of the word.