Written by Steven Liechty
"Do not give what is holy to dogs; And do not throw your pearls before swine, Or they will trample them under foot and tear you to pieces." - Jesus, in Matthew 7:6
Dog lovers may take offense at Jesus lumping dogs together with the likes of pigs.
But consider that in his time dogs were not cuddly, domesticated Fidos, Lassies, Buddies and Bellas, but mangy, wild, ravenous scavengers; vultures on four legs. Likewise, pigs were unclean, black-market bottom feeders and the preferred hiding place of demons.
Not known for their refined palates and impeccable moral standards, dogs and hogs eat most anything and bite if you get in their way. Throw them something completely inedible at them, like jewelry, and you may arouse their full wrath.
Consider also that Jesus is talking about close encounters with dogs and hogs of another kind: unscrupulous humans who consume without discretion, gorge themselves without hesitation, and get defensive when their sense of entitlement is challenged.
Yes, there is something of the dog and hog in everyone.
Jesus knew this from experience. He regularly sowed the priceless pearl of the gospel into our prodigal-like, pig-slop lives and for his trouble we turned on him. But the extravagant, risk-taking generosity of God is undaunted and undeterred because God's jewelry box is bottomless.
If that doesn't fill us with praise, we might still be in the doghouse or stuck in the mud.
God, the next time you toss a pearl in my direction be sure to hit me right between the eyes so I may come to my senses, and come home to you.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.