Pearls in the Pigpen

When I was a small girl living in Pennsylvania farm country, I begged my father for a little pig. I went so far as to say I just loved little pigs. He was a man of wisdom and suspected how long that particular fascination would last. “I’ll tell you what,” he replied. “Christmas is coming. Why don’t you ask Santa to bring you a pig?”

I replied without hesitation, “Oh, I already asked Santa Claus and he doesn’t have any little pigs.”  Touché, mon père!  Bested by a conniving three-year- old with her eye on a Betty Crocker Junior Oven. Just as well, because I later discovered pigs smell terrible.

But let’s consider pigs for a moment. I know of two Biblical instances where they played an integral part in the general discourse. From Matthew 7:6, Do not throw your pearls before swine. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. The second reference is found in Matthew 8:31, where demons pleaded with Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into that herd of swine.”

The swine promptly dove over a cliff, demons and all. These two verses tell us pigs have difficulty discerning value and they’ll ingest just about anything!

The verses do, of course, contain important truths. In the first instance, we’re cautioned about what we choose to share and with whom. I try to follow two self-made rules:  don’t confide what isn’t fully life in me, nor what another may not understand and become a stumbling block to them. Our pearls can be quite the opposite to someone else. I confess I’m too often swine-like, the one who says carelessly, “What’s the big deal?  or “Oh by the way, you know your new coat?  I saw the same one on sale, half price.” I sometimes inappropriately speak too soon about a personal conviction and end up misunderstood and confused.  I can rob joy, incite jealousy, inspire anxiety, obliterate a friendship, or badly mishandle a situation simply by what I say.  Or don’t say.

We’re often the recipients of wonderful words of love and encouragement.  We must cherish them as pearls of great price.  We’re the guardians of such gifts to others that require wisdom, a second thought, and gentle participation.

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