Read Matthew 7:6
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. (NRSV)
What on earth was Jesus thinking when he said this? It is a saying that seems to come ‘out of the blue’. Yet it may not be quite that obscure. Jesus has been talking about not judging others. Perhaps some hearers might have mistakenly assumed this meant we don’t exercise any discrimination or offer any criticism of others.
So he goes on to say that there might be occasions when it is right and proper to exercise such critical discernment. Jesus himself knew that in some situations it was pretty futile to seek to persuade another person as to the truth about himself. Both Herod and Pilate fall into this category.
Applying this text to ourselves might have us beware of entering into fiery arguments about our faith. Or trying to persuade someone who has already persuaded us their minds are made up. While we are to share our faith at every opportune time, Jesus seems to suggest there may be times that are not opportune.
Certainly we trust that the Holy Spirit can penetrate the deepest defences, but it also seems that there are times when we discern that the time or place or person is not right. Our treasured gospel might be opposed and attacked, but we don’t put ourselves in positions where we positively invite it to be attacked. Not every public debate or dinner-table conversation or media production is an appropriate sphere for faith sharing. Our boldness is to be accompanied by discretion.