But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.
(Acts 13:51 ESV)
During the last two months I have been studying through the books of Acts as part of my preparation for church planting in an unfamiliar context. In reading Acts 13:51 I came across this phrase Shake the Dust Off Your Feet. And although reading the book of Acts many times I had never quite paid full attention to the meaning of this verse.
Note, this same phrase is also used at least three other times before the book of Acts in three of the four gospels (Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). In each context that this phrase is used it is referring to a situation in that you are going to share the gospel with someone, but upon them not receiving you or the message of the gospel to basically move on to another person or place.
This tells me that I don't have to carry the burden of that person not being saved at that moment or feel like they were rejecting me. Many times in the past I have beat myself up over someone rejecting the gospel once presented, but this verse tells me not to be upset, but rather to leave the burden there and move on to the next person that needs to hear the gospel.
Recognizing this has been so freeing to me because it does not give me an excuse not to share the gospel with all people, but it does give me reason to move on after a clear gospel message has been delivered and rejected. It points back to the reality that it is the Holy Spirit that needs to go before you to initiate the relationship and Jesus alone that saves.
I've personally experienced this in my own life in the last year as I have been preparing to leave the country. Knowing I would be leaving, I wanted to be intentional with my family and friends and although not sharing the gospel with all as I should, I have shared with many and with some I have had to "shake off the dust from my feet" and move on to the next person.
Now to you I say share the gospel with all people, but don't waste your time too long on those that are not receiving what you are saying. Rather move on to the next person or place because time is getting short and there are many who have never heard the good news that the Holy Spirit of the almighty God has prepared for you to share with as they are ready to respond.