by Raymond Gonzalez
Sentry Magazine, March 2001
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).
Not in my wildest dreams as a babe in Christ, did I think to apply this proverb to brethren. The wording is too rough ... too crude. But in my 23 years as a follower of the Lord Jesus, I now realize that Jesus was speaking to Jews about their relationship with other Jews. The Lord was not talking about Jew and Gentile dealings. He was speaking to his disciples about considering their efforts with their own brethren!
It makes sense. Only a few times have I encountered non-believers who were belligerent or blasphemous about my Lord. One man told me; "Ray, you know what you can do with that Bible???? ... you can "&%#!(&(&SS"! Another man, a school teacher proudly said that Jesus Christ was a fake. O.K. that's about it. Most people simply tell you that they are this or that and "thank you, good-bye." A few allow you to speak to them and that is how people are converted.
Now, back to the proverb. Matthew 7:6 is probably a paraphrase from Proverbs 9:7-8. The wise man tells us that sometimes it is better to leave some people alone, otherwise, you will get spotted -- in other words, dirty! Had I known the truth of this proverb, I would have avoided several encounters with brethren that have sooted my name.
- "He insulted my mother and my wife ..."
- "They came over and showed absolutely no humility ..."
- "They threatened me with disfellowship ..."
These are words from the mouths of brethren -- baptized members of a church of Christ. I've had brethren call me out to fight ... "if you're man enough" and they made it look like I started it all. I've had brethren tell me: "they are all a bunch of hypocrites over at that church" and then they tum it around and tell others: "well Ray said that you are all a bunch of hypocrites"! Yes, brethren, the proverb is for our dealings with our own also.
How many of you have had the experience of being maligned by brethren after you tried to help them come back to the Lord? How many times have you been accused of being a warmonger after you tried to make peace between brethren? Have you ever been accused of being abusive, because you informed members that the church was going to withdraw from them unless they repented?
My advice in some cases is simply to follow the Lord's advice: "Don't throw that which is holy to the dogs." Consider the individual. Is he a scorner? Does he or she already have a track record of being a troublemaker? If he or she does, consider Matthew 7:6. Recall what happened to the last person who tried to win them back to the Lord. Consider the love that was trampled upon. The love that was cast to the dogs! Sometimes it's just better to leave them alone. "What is to die, let it die, and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated; and let those who are left eat one another's flesh" (Zechariah 11:9).