And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Matthew 10:12-14 NKJV
I have always loved the “dust from your feet” verses. Not that I have used them much, but at least I found that the disciples had some of these moments. You know the ones. You work with someone, pray for them, share your heart with them, and then they just kind of blow you off. As irritating as that is, I think the principle of dust-shaking is probably not meant to be used just when I get frustrated or have my precious feelings hurt.
All kidding aside, there does seem to be a fine balance between being patient and forgiving with someone, and wasting time that could be better spent elsewhere. As I look at the different uses of the concept in the New Testament, it seems to be primarily directed at Jews who reject their Messiah, but not entirely. I know I tend to stick with people too long. God has been so patient with me, I find it hard to write someone off. On the other hand, there comes a time when my efforts are clearly not bearing fruit. Jesus emphasized the message and whether they were receiving it. I think the key is in there somewhere.
Anyway, by this time you would think I would have a formula of some kind for determining when it’s time to move on. I don’t. I have noticed a couple of things. First, when someone starts thinking they are smarter than me, it’s about time to go. They may be smarter than me, that’s not hard to do, but if they see themselves that way, they are past hearing what I have to say or seeing what I have to impart. Second, when someone only calls me after the train wreck, they don’t value my input. They blow down the highway with their foot on the throttle, then when they hit the train, they call me to give ‘em a “there-there” and help clean up their mess. Shake that dust.
The final test for me is in Acts 20:20 where Paul says, “I didn’t avoid telling you anything that would help you, and I didn’t avoid teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20 GW) I try to evaluate by asking, “Have I delivered the message to the best of my ability, and given them a fair chance at hearing what they need to know?” If my heart says, “Yep!” then I can take my peace and move on.