When People Say No
October 4, 2020
Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).
Not everyone received Jesus as Messiah, or as Lord and Savior. Not everyone will. We know the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But there comes a time when the Lord’s patience ends and the consequences for our decision begins. That’s what’s so frightening about Hebrews 6:4-8.
The ministry of the Lord was a short 3 years. There was precious little time for Him to minister to the people of Israel. Those who rejected the apostles rejected Him. So, Jesus told them to move on. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of Christians today. Sometimes we have the attitude that if people reject our witness, we must be persistent and ‘wear them down’ until they eventually become Christians. At that point we must consider our motives. Is persistence to the glory of the Lord, or is it another attempt at a gold star on our conversion report?
To ‘shake off the dust’ from one’s feet was a significant act denoting the apostle’s disregard for those who reject the Gospel. It signified they would have nothing more to do with them or say to them, and that they looked upon them as impure, profane, and ungodly. This was done by some of the apostles (see Acts 13:51; 1:6).
Of course, we would not do such a thing today. But the meaning is the same - move on; don’t spend any more time with them unless the Holy Spirit brings us back to them. Does this mean we are not to care for them? No. We need to pray that the Gospel we share will be used by the Holy Spirit to bring them to faith down the road, or that someone else will have the opportunity to pick up where we left off. The key here is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“Father, teach me to be patient in following Your Holy Spirit as I speak to people about Jesus. Never let me presume that being persistent is a good thing when Your Holy Spirit is telling me to move on. And never let me presume that I should move on when Your Spirit is telling me to be persistent. Keep me sensitive to Your leading through the Holy Spirit so that others can come to faith in Jesus Christ and You are honored in the witnessing encounter. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”