Don’t Throw Your Pearls to Pigs – Matthew 7:6

What did Jesus mean when he said, ““Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”?

In Matthew 7:1 Jesus starts talking about how we judge. On the surface it seems that he is saying we shouldn’t do any judging. But that is certainly not the case because just 5 verses later he is comparing some people to wild dogs and wild pigs. The truth is we all have to be able and willing to judge from what is right and wrong. Jesus’ point in saying that we should be careful about the standards we use to judge people was about the attitude of the heart. That is really what the entire sermon is about – putting God right at the center of our lives and having our attitudes and actions line up with God’s priorities. God doesn’t want his people to be the harsh, judgmental critics of the world. If we live and judge like that we will receive the same judgment or condemnation back on ourselves.

So Jesus holds two seemingly opposite points in tension so that we will find balance in the way we view others and in the way we judge between right and wrong. On one hand he says don’t judge people (7:1). On the other hand he says we are to be discerning of people’s character (7:6). When Jesus says don’t throw your pearls to pigs or give to dogs what is sacred he is saying that we can’t just walk around covering up everything or overlooking all forms of evil. It is important that we are able to call things for what they are. It is a vivid illustration. Someone who never judges, in their mindset of never passing judgment, walks right up to a wild pig and says “Here are some pearls for you!” (a symbol of something holy and pure). The pig tramples them and their pearls into the mud. Jesus is saying to be discerning and wise in how we judge. He is not teaching that all judgments are off limits. You have to allow Jesus to make his own point and the way to do that is to hold these two things (7:1 and 7:6) in tension just as Jesus taught them in tension with one another. When we do that we will come to the balanced approach Jesus is looking for – able to tell right from wrong without developing a judgmental spirit.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

14 Responses to Don’t Throw Your Pearls to Pigs – Matthew 7:6

  1. WesWoodell says:

    I did some digging on this passage a while back:

    Bit different take.

    • mattdabbs says:

      I am with you 100%. I guess the main difference was your focus was on 7:2-5 and mine was on 7:1 & 7:6. I think you are right on the money. One thing I think is interesting is that when when we teach/preach the plank vs. speck illustration we often don’t go all the way. At the end of 7:4 he actually does say the one with the plank can and should remove the speck in the other’s eye. We often miss that part and stop short with just the plank getting remove but we leave the speck there. In other words, the main point made when this is preached (from my experience as a professional sermon listener) is that we make a big deal out of the plank, which is true to the text, but we don’t address what the man still has an obligation to do once he gets the plank out…go and remove that speck. So both people end up benefited by this in the end. Make sense?

    • mano hadjilias says:

      Don’t waste your efforts, time and energy on people who won’t give God or you the correct appreciation for the truth you are sharing with them and for your efforts directed towards their well being. They are the dogs and pigs in life. The unchangeable, the stubborn, the stiff-necked, the hardened hearted, the lost and damned. In other words those dogs that return to their vomit (a sinful & ungodly life), and were never chosen by the Father to do His will and to bear His fruits of righteousness on their tree. I have preached to the lost who blaspheme God and Jesus, if there is no repentance or humility in them after a few efforts and after attempts on different days and occasions, this passage teaches us to leave them. They are the pigs and dogs. The pearls is the good news of the gospel and is also our love and our energy and commitment that should be used and aimed at those who are more willing to receive the good news with an open heart rather than those who chose to trample it under foot.

      Also the bible teaches that we can judge, (many Christians lack understanding on this point and say that we should not judge others), but yes we can judge people and rebuke them but we cannot be hypocrites when judging because God hates hypocrites. John teaches that when we judge we should “judge with righteous judgements.” (John 7:24)
      If we do not pass judgements and do not rebuke others in truth, then many will continue on the path that leads to death and destruction. But a rebuke carried out in the correct way, with love and gentleness can show people their faults, open their eyes and lead them to salvation or increased closeness to the Lord our God.

      Peace to you all in Jesus Christ’s name.

  2. Ken Sublett says:

    Krino includes many things: “expound or interpret in a particular way.” Peter outlawed “private interpretation” which means further expounding. That would deny that Jesus of Nazareth had made the prophecies (by Christ) more perfect by fulfilling them.

    The Resource for building up the church is the Prophets and Apostles with Jesus the Chief Corner Stone.

    Scribal history in the “Writings” was never used in a spritual sense.

    “bring to trial, accuse, judge in matters of life and death

    In Romans 14 Paul outlawed “doubtful disputations” or the diversities of the three sects in Rome. In Romans 15 he defined the synagogue inclusive “to use one mind and one mouth to speak that which is written for our learning.

    The self-pleasure “Areskos” is passing judgment in the sense of;

    7. decide in favour of, prefer, choose

    Paul’s word deprives a body of people the right to decide to impose on others.

    Other than the right to judge or understand Scripture, the word “Krino” almost always means some obvert decision to impose on others” such as:

    separate, put asunder, distinguish, “

    Christ in Isaiah 58 etal does not permit to judged by “seeking our own pleasure or speaking our own words.” A Disciple is a student and not the master

  3. To me the passage (“don’t throw your pearls to pigs”) suggests that we cannot force feed the good news to those who neither understand nor desire it.

    Of course, no one understands it to begin – and there may be little desire either. Yet, many yearn for something without realizing what it is. Such people respond joyfully to the message of Jesus.

    It is those who berate the unbeliever for not behaving as a believer who is in view in this text. I remember that Jesus also said in this context, “Ask and it shall be given….” Advice offered to those who do not ask is seldom appreciated or received.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Not forcing the gospel on people is part of what Jesus is teaching here. The broader point, in light of the context, is that there are occasions that call for judgment. At least that is my take for the next hour or so :)

  4. That’s a wonderful example of the dual nature of the divine truth. I’ve never seen that before in those verses. A couple thoughts I had after reading your post:

    1. Do you think that the pearls in these verses correspond to the church as pearl of great value in Matthew 13:46 or the 12 pearls in Revelation 21 as the entrances to the New Jerusalem?

    2. Also, I just wanted to contribute a post on judging others that I wrote a while ago.

  5. Gina Morrison says:


    I highly recommend this site as an excellent resource; this is just one article, but i’m sharing it specifically because i think alot of you are confused about the Kingdom of God.
    ALso, tons of other valuable information for those who are seeking the truth.

    • mattdabbs says:


      So lay it out there. What are we confused in regard to the kingdom specifically? The link is about Brian McLaren and his writings. I don’t get the connection at all. Thanks.

  6. Gina Morrison says:

    For consideration……sorry about the above link although the crossroad link shares tons of informative information…..

    i’m sharing this link with you just for your consideration..not to debate or take over a conversation….just casting pearls

  7. Gina Morrison says:

    I realize i’ve not responded to your questions on the other topic but I will in due time…In christ, Gina

  8. Pingback: Animals act like animals « These are my thoughts

  9. Pingback: Animals act like animals - These are my thoughts…

  10. Pingback: This Little Piggy Wears Pearls | Another Red Letter Day

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