Jun 23rd, 2020 (Tuesday) - Beware of Dogs - A Reflection on Matthew 7:6, 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Many years ago I went to Nepal and I was invited by a local resident for a meal. He took me into the house from a side entrance, through a door that was not only extremely narrow, but short as well. The door frame jutted nearly six inches off the ground, and vines covered the wall, so the gate was almost concealed. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, other than wonder which century it was constructed in because it was ancient. But when I came across this verse I was reminded of that peculiar door because I imagined the narrow gate described by Jesus may have been something like that.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized why Jesus had made the comparison. One, it was hard to find. Jesus once spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven being like treasure hidden in a field that a man found accidentally, meaning that it wasn’t in plain sight; one had to look for it (see Matthew 13:44). Two, you had to both lift your feet and crouch a bit to cross the threshold, both of which were conscious decisions you had to make, or risk tripping up and/or banging your head. Accepting salvation is a conscious decision. One can, of course, look for more symbolism in this act, but I leave that to you.

Three, the door was so narrow that only one person could get through it at one time, which suggested that salvation was an individual proposition. We might want to save our entire family, including cousins and second cousins, but we can't walk through the door for them. They have to walk through it themselves. But we can show them — and others — the door. As a matter of fact, we are duty bound to do so. Having found it, we cannot keep the knowledge of salvation to ourselves. We have to share it with others, showing other people where it is and how to get in.

My friend in Nepal had invited only me to dinner. And it was a simple meal. But our Father in heaven has invited everyone to a banquet that he has laid out, and we are duty-bound to distribute the invitations to everybody. However, not everyone will accept it. Some people will be openly hostile. Jesus tells us what to do about these. He says, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14). Shaking the dust off one’s feet is a way of saying, "Hey, I've done all I can; I no longer carry any responsibility for the consequences to follow.” It’s like saying, “I wash my hands off the situation.”

We can, of course, continue to pray for the people in question, but we are not to engage them further. We see him endorsing this instruction in today’s passage. “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you” (Matthew 7:6). The gospel message is holy and precious. If people do not realize it, and turn violent, let us leave them be. Let them suffer the consequences of their actions.

But don’t forget to do your part.