“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
Why did Jesus view pearls as extremely valuable, referring to these in parables?
It is quite interesting how pearls are formed: most come from oysters. Inside the oyster is an organ called the mantle that produces the inner shell lining, called nacre, out of the nutrients from the oyster’s food.
A natural pearl starts to form when sand or some other foreign substance gets dislodged in the oyster, between the mantle and the shell, causing irritation. The oyster covers up the irritant to protect itself, using its mantle to envelop the foreign object with layers of the inner shell nacre substance. This process eventually forms a pearl. Pearls which are naturally formed and symmetrically round are rare and command high prices.
That which was borne out of discomfort and irritation eventually becomes a gem. In its struggle and ingenuity in protecting itself from the foreign substance’s intrusion into its comfort zone, the oyster produces a thing of beauty and great value.
What are the pearls in our lives? What gems have we produced out of various hurdles, bombardments, discomforts, pain, setbacks and irritations? Are these life lessons, nuggets of wisdom, deeper insights, a broader understanding, some know-how, an expertise in something, or some other achievement we are proud of? Or could it be a new way of life, a truth discovered that we would be willing to stake our lives on?
Jesus warns against throwing our pearls before swine. The literary translation of this idiom is “to offer something valuable to someone who does not understand that it is valuable” (idioms.freedictionary.com).
It is not necessary to define what a swine is, as the imagery of this creature’s brutishness and coarseness is evident. However, it is needful for us to recognize the swine we deal with in our everyday affairs. Note further that the idiom dictionary definition is quite mild compared to Jesus’ warning of the great harm the swine could inflict to the pearls and to the owner of the pearls.
May the Lord grant us the wisdom to guard our pristine pearls against being thrown into the swine’s quagmire.