“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 10:12-13, N.K.J.V.)
Let me be clear about the fact that Jesus spoke these words in the context of a teaching session concerning evangelism. He was sending His chosen 12 out to witness for Him, and He wanted them to know how to handle any home where they either wouldn’t be received or their witnessing would fall upon deaf ears. With that specific context understood, though, I think we are safe to assume that the core principle at the heart of these words can be applied to other settings and situations.
God knows when you’ve tried your best to reach someone. He knows when you’ve thrown your all at making a situation work. He knows when the problem is the other party, not you. He knows when there is little, if anything, to be gained by you continuing to knock on a door that isn’t opening to you. He knows when it’s time for you to shake the dust off your feet and move on to something else.
I have no idea where this post finds you right now, and I’m certainly not trying to cause unwise upheaval in your life, but it could be that you are in the midst of some situation that God is now calling you to abandon. Obviously, I’m not talking about you bailing on a marriage because of irreconcilable differences or you doing something else that violates scripture. (Don’t use this principle of shaking the dust off your feet as carte blanche to step outside God’s will and do anything that suits you.) But I am talking about you putting a period anyplace in your life where God wants you to put one.
You ask, “And how do I know where those places are?” Oh, that takes commitment to Jesus. It takes prayer. It takes spiritual discernment. It takes seeking God’s will. It takes committing yourself to that will whatever it may be. The good news, though, is that God will show you those places for periods if you sincerely ask Him to show you. Remember, He wants you to do His will more than you want to do it.
The truth is that there will be times when God will have you to keep on knocking on a door. As Jesus Himself said in another passage, “…Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, New Living Translation). There will be other times, though, when God will have you to shake the dust off your feet and saturate the scene with your absence. And, as I said, it just could be that this is what God is nudging you to do right now as He whispers to you, “It’s time to give up on this and start pouring your time and energy into something new.” Think about it.