I read this quote many years ago, “Never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”  Other than being some obvious common sense instruction, you might ask what does this have to do with being encouraged in the gospel?  There is no mention in the scriptures of any “pig choirs” being in concert, or any instructions on how to organize such a thing or pull off such a spectacle.   Why?  Well, . . . because pigs can’t sing!

It does not matter if you get the best vocal coach in the world, or if your heart is sincere and determined, or if you log countless hours of practice, we are still left with the same problem . . .  pigs can’t sing.  Sadly, religious legalism has developed its own version of “pig choir practice” – it’s called performance based christianity.  With great sincerity and determination we can strive in our own efforts to measure up and earn God’s approval.  There is just one big problem . . . through the flesh we can never produce righteousness.  We will always fail!  It is not that the instructor (the law) is flawed, but that the flesh is incapable of a self-derived righteousness.

“For now my place is in Him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the law; God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from  faith in Christ.”   Philippians 3:9 (Phillips translation)

Genuine righteousness.  Now that’s what we really need.  It is the gift of God through faith in Jesus – it’s grace!  That is why our place is now in Him.  Romans 10:1-4 speaks of those who have a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness they seek to establish their own and do not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.  The flesh is like a pig, you can dress it up in a tuxedo, but it just wants to wallow in the mud.

Now the good news is that God doesn’t expect pigs to sing or the flesh to produce righteousness.  He has given as a gift to us His righteousness, He has given us His very life by the Spirit.  This is all through the sacrifice and redemptive work of Jesus – nothing more, nothing less.  Righteousness is not a benefit we earn, but a gift we receive.  It’s about grace and faith and not law and works.  It’s all relational, it’s about our union with our Lord.  Our focus should be on Jesus and not our flesh.  The truth is if we will walk in the Spirit (that’s faith in grace) then we will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

So the next time someone invites you to practice for the swine cantata you can just say no thanks.  God has placed His life-song in us and we’re just going to let His Spirit sing, . . . and let the pigs be silent.

Love in Jesus,