Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pigs and Pearls

Key Verse: "Do not throw your pearls to pigs." (Matthew 7:6)

Many of us hold an innocent view of pigs thanks in no small part to the children's classic Charlotte's Web. The endearing character Wilbur portrays a picture of friendship that touches the tender hearts of kids and adults alike. And yet, my experience with pigs paints another perspective, far less appealing than the tale of Charlotte and Wilbur.

When I was a little girl, my family raised pigs. And though I found that pigs made good eatin', I was keenly aware to be cautious in their presence. My grandpa, full of experience as a seasoned farmer insisted that I stay away from the pig pen. In fact, I remember my grandfather made it seriously clear the pen was no place for childish games. I was small, and my memories are selective, yet pigs display several character flaws that seemed clear to me even as a child. One they were stinky. Two they dangerous. And three, I wanted no part of being in their pen. It was obvious by the frenzy at feeding time, that "slops" presented a liklihood of being trampled if one got too close. With horrific squeals amidst chaos, the pigs fought violently for dibs of rotten food and left-over scraps from the table. It was a sight truly disturbing, and it filled my young heart with disgust. It didn't take long for me to discover, that though I lived on a farm, I was not really a "farm girl". And while I love bacon, I still detest pigs even now.

It is interesting that Jesus warns us about getting comfortable with pigs as well. Several times in the Bible, we are given references to pigs with caution. And if you have spent much time near a pig pen, it makes sense why we should heed the advice. When given the opportunity, the pig is ruthless. Without exception, the pig wants what the pig wants. Period. End of discussion. Even when nothing more than moldy bread are the spoils in the win. Therefore, our Savior warns us "do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:6 NIV)

It is surely no coincidence that God further illustrates the lowly nature of pigs in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-31 NIV) There among the pigs we find a foolish young man, full of shame. Regretfully, he had traded his family for worldly desires and possessions and it had led him lowly to despair. In short, he traded his pearls for pigs. It is a message worth consideration as we step into the traps of modern life. For whether you live on a farm or not, pigs are all around.

Our pearls are those things in life we most treasure. Marriage. Children. Friendship. Our divine relationship with God. They are precious jewels we must hold with care. For, if we throw them over to the "pigs" of life, certainly they will be trampled. It is not a question of if as much as it when the destruction will occur. Surely, we must heed the warning and be on the lookout for the pigs. Look carefully with wisdom, and you will begin to recognize the pigs in your midst. For they want what they want, regardless of the cost. In the reasoning of the pig, the end, though rooted in destructive hunger, justifies the means. As you walk through your day, be mindful of demands that threaten those heavenly gifts most treasured in life, and commit to proceed with caution. Your pearls are priceless and fragile. Nurture them. Protect them. Refuse to squander them or take them granted. And most of all, never, under any circumstances, let them near the pig pen.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have blessed us with treasured pearls and they make our lives so beautiful. We praise you for the ways you lavish us in family and friendship, so dear and priceless. Let us be good stewards of our relationships, remembering never to squander the moments we have together. Help us to never take them for granted or allow life to trample them. Give us wisdom to discern the "pigs" that threaten our pearls and give us courage to step away from the "pen".

Reflect: Are you choosing to eat with the pigs?

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