Are there people in your life who are not worth the time of day? Some who just don't deserve to be loved, prayed for, given a helping hand?
That is how Christ Jesus' words about throwing one's "pearls before swine" are sometimes interpreted.
According to Matthew, his exact words are: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Matthew 7:6, New American Standard Bible
So who or what are the swine?
In the Bible, context means a lot. Jesus' remarks appear in Matthew's rendering of the Sermon on the Mount and is part of a general discussion on not judging others. His basic message is: "Don't judge others, rather work on your own perspective so you can help." And he finishes with the swine reference. Did Jesus suddenly switch gears? Maybe not.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Jesus' parable of 'the sower' shows the care our Master took not to impart to dull ears and gross hearts the spiritual teachings which dulness and grossness could not accept. Reading the thoughts of the people, he said: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine." (p. 272)
Is the phrase "dull ears and gross hearts" a reference to ignorant or unreceptive neighbors, colleagues, family members and other people? Or is it possible the dull ears, gross hearts, and swine, are actually the mortal thoughts and material conditions that tend to pull our attention away from seeing, loving and helping our fellow man?
By the time Jesus met a certain man from Gadera, the guy had already been subject to a lot of "pearls before swine" treatment. His closest neighbors were swine-herders who had invested a lot in watching this poor man suffer and act out. They were aware of up to a legion (2000) of symptoms of his illness. How difficult it must have been for them to be so invested in the man's difficulties. Ultimately, they they paid a high price for their proximity to his case. (For a full look at that story and its meaning, see "What we can learn from that crazy pig story".)
On the other hand, Jesus didn't suffer at all for helping. He had a different approach. He didn't ask about the problem, didn't get involved with all those symptoms. The contact was short and sweet, really. But effective.
He asked the man his name. Christ Jesus saw him as a man with a name and a spiritual nature to be discerned and loved. Whatever was said, no matter what tale of suffering poured out, he didn't carry on a lengthy discussion with the devils - the symptoms of disease. He cast them out.
Seeing him as the son of God, Jesus helped the man find himself again, clothed and in his right mind. Mary Baker Eddy explained how: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." (Science and Health, 476)
Perspective is everything when it comes to helping and healing. This is why Jesus gave the essential teaching to his disciples just before talking about what they should not do with their pearls, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7:3-5, New American Standard Bible)
Many who need help don't know much more than that they are suffering. For those who know of a way out, there is always something that can be done. If the way isn't readily seen, we have a log in our eye - a mistaken view of the situation before us - and may well be fooled by the swine costume of symptoms that is hiding the real man. In that case, the need is to deal first with our own perspective in prayer. When we behold the perfect man, the true spiritual nature of man as the reflection of the perfect Mind that is God, we will always know what to do next. Whether we pray, or give a helping hand in some other way, there are always precious pearls we can throw.
There really is no Christian way around it. We must throw down our pearls. Do we cast them before swine and risk their being trampled under a torrent of fear and frenzy? Or shall we place them before the Christ and see the real man as he is? The pure perspective of God's spiritual man, heals.
And every one of your pearls counts.
This post first appeared on this blog on March 13th. It has been edited and updated for this re-post. Things are settling down a bit around here. So, I expect to begin posting some new material in the next few days. It has been fun looking back over the last year and pulling forward some of my favorite archive pieces. Thank you for hanging in there and reading them again!
Jesus once said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) He also said, First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5) I think this emphasis on what we see and how we judge problems before our eyes can make a huge difference when it comes to healing the sick.
A little girl hurt her arm while playing on the school playground and was sent home. When her dad tried to care for the injury, she said, “Daddy, don’t see what you are going to look at!”
This little girl attended the Christian Science Sunday School and had been learning about God as Spirit, the only creator, and of His only creation as spiritual. She intuitively knew that the injury had nothing to do with her true and perfect spiritual selfhood as God’s child.
While he cared for the physical injury, the dad saw, or understood, that his daughter’s spiritual, God-created selfhood, was untouched by evil, hence there was no basis for harm. The Dad was touched by his daughter’s faith and understanding. No doubt, this influenced his own prayer, and healing quickly followed.
Mary Baker Eddy placed a lot of importance on what we look at when praying for healing. She wrote, "The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception. We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? hen you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 248)
Further on she used Jesus’ example to show us a way out. She explained, “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.” (Ibid. 476)
I have seen, time and time again, that Jesus' approach to healing – looking for and seeing the perfect likeness of God – is quick and effective.
Once, when my son was a teenager, an unsightly growth developed on one of his fingers. He asked a doctor to check it out and was told that it was unusual and would take a long time to heal. My son thought he could get faster results from prayer and decided to approach the situation from the spiritual standpoint of Christian Science. We prayed about his spiritual identity as God’s child untouched, unseen and unmarred by evil.
Shortly after, one evening my son was teasing his sister. In the process, he bumped his finger which began to bleed a lot. Grabbing a towel to clean up, I thought that the scene I was witnessing – of teasing or of bleeding - couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Spirit, God, or with my son, His perfectly formed, well-behaved child. As I prayed, I no longer saw what I was looking at.
I bandaged his finger and made sure he was OK, and I left with my husband to go to a long-planned dinner engagement with friends. I continued to pray to see only what was spiritually true about my son.
During the dinner, our friends’ phone rang and it was our son. He couldn’t wait to tell us the strange growth had simply dropped clean off! He was healed.
Kay Olson CSB is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher in Pennsylvania, USA. Her blog today supports “Radical Acts” on Time4thinkers.com - a summer program, online and ecumenical – encouraging and supporting the practice of 18 of Jesus radical statements to his followers. You can click on this link to find out more. Once you do, we hope you will join in. There are some pretty amazing things being shared by the radical actors!
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no