"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town."
- Matthew 10:14 NIV
The Lord brought the above verse to my remembrance recently, when I was doing my best to give a loved one some godly advice. I confess that it grieves my heart when I see people I care about casting aside God's will for them, and choosing to go their own way. Since I surrendered my life to the Lord years ago, and have gotten a taste of the abundant life that Jesus spoke of, I long to see others turn their own lives over to Him, and to experience the same blessings. But sometimes, no matter how I try to reach out to others with the love and grace of God, my words go unheeded. Maybe you've felt the same way about some of the people in your own life. It's not easy for us to watch loved ones make wrong choices, especially when they result in serious consequences. If we're not careful, we can allow anger, bitterness, or resentment to worm their way into our hearts.
On this particular occasion, the Lord gave me my own personal paraphrase of His words in Matthew 10:14. He told me, "If someone will not listen to you, shake it off and move on!" And I desperately needed to hear those words. Instead of letting the matter go, and leaving this person in God's hands, I was holding on to my frustration, my helplessness, and my resentment. And I felt as though all of my peace and joy - gifts that Jesus died to give me - had flown out the window. That's when I turned to the Lord in heartfelt repentance, and asked Him to help me "shake off" the negative emotions that threatened to overwhelm me. And He didn't hesitate to answer that prayer.
Notice that Jesus didn't tell His disciples - "When people don't listen to you, I want you to whine, complain, get depressed, and angry. I want you to focus on their disobedience, and how they're ruining their own lives. I want you to keep thinking about all of the blessings they're forfeiting, because they refuse to walk in the good plans I have for them." No, Jesus said, "Shake it off and move on!" The Savior knows that it will do us no good to waste time fretting over the wrong choices that others make. All it will do is hinder our prayers for these people, and make us ineffective witnesses for God.
I like the way the Message Bible translates Jesus' words in Matthew 10:14. It says: "If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way." Even if our words fall on deaf ears, and we decide to walk away, we still have powerful spiritual weapons that can make a difference. We can persist in prayer for these people, and we can consistently set a Christlike example for them, planting seeds in their lives that will eventually produce a heavenly harvest. The next time you minister words of wisdom to someone and they "blow you off," don't forget that that's your cue to "shake it off"!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I reacted badly when I ministered to others, and didn't get the response that I desired. Teach me how to be more Christlike in this area, and help me to do my part in the process. Remind me that it's never Your will for me to hang on to negative emotions that will only hinder my prayers, and my fellowship with You. Thank You that as I walk as Jesus did, You will use me to touch and change lives for Your glory!
- J. M. Farro