I once had someone invite me to confess all my sins to them to “clear my heart” or something like that. Except I knew that wasn’t really what they were offering—rather, this person was looking for ammo against me should it ever prove useful. Though I often try to be vulnerable with people, I said nothing to them.
In a very different, but similar scenario, there have been several times where I have apologized to people even though I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I figure that at the very least, I can at least apologize for getting angry. To my surprise, there have been several times when the other person accepted my apology and did not soften their own heart to own up for anything on their behalf. I remember doing this several times with one person to the point that I realized I couldn’t apologize to them anymore. They started to use my apologies against me. My kindness was blinding them to their own faults and endorsing their narrative that I was always wrong. I was doing us both a disservice.
There’s a teaching Jesus gave that I might apply here, though I don’t know if it belongs. And I don’t know if it belongs, because no scholar really knows how to fully apply this teaching. In the middle of his longest message, Jesus gave this brief lesson: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” In other words, don’t give holy or priceless things to people that can’t appreciate it. Feeding a wild dog in ancient times didn’t necessarily make them more friendly—instead, they’d growl, demanding more.
Scholars are all over the place on what this mini-parable means. It seems to come up out of nowhere and feels very disjointed from the two teachings it’s sandwiched between. There are some good suggestions as to how to interpret it and I think many of them could be considered valid spiritual truth whether Jesus meant to communicate it or not. I myself, don’t know where to land on interpreting these words—all I know is that I feel I’ve experienced them in some form in situations like the ones mentioned above.
I think it takes great discernment and humility to determine where the line is on stuff like this. For example, vulnerability and apologizing are good things that we should all strive for, and perhaps rarely shy away from. Indeed, sometimes it is proper to get trampled on a cross for the sake of loving someone else. But perhaps there are also moments where we are needlessly trampled because we put something precious where it didn’t belong and it was turned against us.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 7:1-12 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. I remember Rob Bell once using an example like the ones I mentioned here in reference to this passage. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post.