PIGS pearls DOGS & meat (The Divine Conspiracy Chapter 7)

As Willard continues to work his way through the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets the Matthew 7 passage about pearls and pigs and meat and dogs in a unique way that I think is at least ½ correct.
Matthew 7:6 says, “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.”
Traditionally the passage has been interpreted as a statement against giving what is valuable to those who are not willing or able to hear it. The Proverbs sometimes tell us not to give an answer to a fool, or not to instruct a fool because they cannot handle what you have for them. And most commentators think this is what Jesus had in mind as well.
Willard however thinks the passage is really saying that we should not take what we think is valuable, but is actually worthless, and give it to those who have no use for it. He focuses on the pearls for the pigs and says a pig would think the pearl was food. Upon closer inspection however, the pig would grow irritated when it found there was no food. So, Willard says we should be careful about throwing things to people that we think are of great value but actually are worthless. Willard says, “Pigs cannot digest pearls, cannot nourish themselves upon them.” In our arrogance we think we are giving valuable things to others when, in fact, we are not giving them what they need.
So, who is right?
I think both are right. I think the first part of the verse warns us not to take things we think are so valuable, but are of little value, and try to force them down the throats of others. We should be careful that what we are delivering to other people has value and can actually feed their souls.
But, Willard’s interpretation breaks down when he tries to tackle the “don’t give what is holy to the dogs” portion of the verse. In Christ’s day there was actually meat that had been left over after sacrifices to God. This actually would be something a dog would like. So, this little metaphor indicates Jesus is saying be careful about throwing around valuable things to those who are not ready to hear them. The left over meet was to be used by the priests, not given to dogs. These dogs would not be pets but wild, diseased animals.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to Willard’s writing is the fact that he often cherry picks certain aspects of a text and almost ignores other parts. The parts that best suit his interpretation are highlighted and the parts that do not synch with his ideas are diminished or ignored. He did this when he spoke on the Beatitudes and he does it here.


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