I read recently about the famed Argentinean soccer player Lionel Messi who offered his red and white boots for a charity drive at an Egyptian television network.
But that goodwill gesture turned into a great offense amongst many Egyptian people
Egyptians deem shoes as dirty and most inappropriate gifts. They are considered the lowliest of items. They are always touching the ground. In fact calling someone “gazma,” the Arabic word for shoe, is a great insult. Besides it would be terribly offensive to lift up or expose the sole of your shoes to anyone.
Hence the offending offer.
Lionel Messi might have done better with his dirty jersey shirt. In another culture and context like Singapore, people would be madly competing in the auction for those pair of soccer boots.
Beyond the important lesson of cultural sensitivity, this incident reminds me of a startling statement by our Lord.
He said: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Jesus tells us not to give what is holy and precious indiscriminately to people who act like animals.
Even though it is our bounden duty to share the gospel of Jesus’ saving grace to all yet there may be times when people repeatedly scorn the gospel and stubbornly turn their backs on Christ.
To go on and on with them will not only cheapen the gospel but dangerously put you in a situation when they can “turn and tear you in pieces.”
Don’t let your offer of God’s holy and precious truth become offensive. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.
And that includes giving precious pearls of wisdom, good advice and sacrificial help.
To people who reject them, they are offending offers.