Discipleship and the Unbeliever – Part 2

    Scripture 

Read Matthew 7:6

Saving your breath 

The “pearls before swine” or “pearls to pigs” as it is in the NIV is one of the more interesting passages in the Bible I believe.  Jesus has just told us not to make comparative judgments, but here he is asking for a comparative judgment.

Essentially, Jesus is telling his disciples that with some people it is obvious they are wasting their time and they should save their breath in the presentation of the gospel.  This message is later repeated as the disciples are sent out to the nearby towns.  If they are not accepted by the town, they are to shake the dust off their sandals and move on.

Simply put, we can’t save everyone.  If we present the gospel – or at least try to – and are rejected we have done our duty.  Sometimes it is worth trying later on and continuing to work with a person.  Other times it is obvious that we are wasting our time and should move on.  We shouldn’t consider this a failure.  We should simply move on and hopefully save our time and resources for someone who will be more receptive.

Proverbs backs up what Jesus says as well.  In some places it says that if you correct a person, they will see the errors of their way and be thankful.  Other places it says that if you correct a fool, he will hate you.

We are ultimately called to make a judgment between those who are fools and those that are worth spending our time on.  So why is this judging not directly going against what Jesus told hold disciples in the earlier verses?  The judgment is not comparing ourselves to another person, it is making a judgment of the person’s openness to the gospel and nothing more.  If we take it any further, we have gone to far.  (For example, if we encounter a rotten sinner who is not open to the gospel and decide that they aren’t worthy of hearing the gospel anyway.)

Personal projects 

Each of us probably has at least one person who we’ve been waiting faithfully to see come to the Lord.  Some of these people would be considered the fools that hate us for correction and otherwise are the pigs that Jesus is telling us not to waste our time on.

So should we give up on these people?

The answer is absolutely not.  We should continue to pray for these people and work with them.  When the disciples shook the dust off their feet and moved to another town, they did not see or interact with those people again.  The people we continue to pray for, we likely cannot or do not wish to separate ourselves from.  Thus we need to continue to pray and to work with them so that they might see the truth of the gospel.

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