Matthew 10:12-14 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
This passage is a part of the instructions Jesus had for his disciples as he sent them out. This particular piece has me thinking about how I respond to those I am trying to serve or help and they are not willing to receive that help.
When I put myself out there to serve or help and I end up feeling rejected, my initial reaction is to be dismissive. I want to exit and hide. I want to take my toys and go home and basically tell the person, “Rain on you.” I believe my intent is to cause them to feel pain for rejecting me or manipulate them into accepting my gift so that I can be praised. However, this chosen behavior actually puts a burden of bitterness on me.
As I look at what Jesus instructed His disciples to do, I see that He instructed them to “shake the dust off your feet”. On the surface, this looks like what I do. I shake the dust off my feet by exiting quickly and taking my toys and going home. However, I don’t think that Jesus wanted His disciples (or me) to have malicious intent when leaving a place they were not accepted.
The key is verse 13, my peace. If I approach a service situation with my peace intact, then I have no ego tied into the situation. I offer myself to help; if it is not accepted, I take my offer back. The key to avoiding bitterness is to come from a place of peace. If I truly approach a situation with a selfless attitude, then I am able to handle the rejection understanding that the rejection has little or nothing to do with me. I have made my offer, now I can shake the dust off my feet as a symbol of knowing that I have done what might have been prompted by the Holy Spirit. Here I am reminded of the prophets of the Old Testament. When God gave them a message to give to the people and the people chose not to follow what the message said, then the prophet was held blameless for the people’s choice.
If I come from a place of peace and selflessness, as opposed to focusing how I might feel after helping someone, then I am able to walk away without carrying bitterness and contempt for the person. This is a fine line for me. Most of the time, subconsciously, I am offering help in order to gain approval or be someone’s hero. When the help is rejected, I feel rejected and begin to believe a message about me that I am unworthy. In order to not feel that way, I turn this back on the individual by exiting or wishing harm on them. I believe that I have been prompted to help, but my approach must be from a place of peace. Once I am able to offer from that place, I am open to the Spirit’s leading. If my peace is accepted, great! If my peace is rejected, it falls back on me and I move on with no bitterness of heart.
My challenge is to work from a place of peace. I have more work to do around being in touch with the Holy Spirit knowing that where he leads may not be about helping as much as it may be about handling my peace.
1. Explain how you have handled rejection when offering help?
2. When you have been rejected, what has been you defense mechanism?
3. What does “shaking the dust off your feet” look like for you?
4. What is getting in the way of you entering a service situation with peace?
5. Notice this week how you react to those you want to help and they reject you. What is God telling you about yourself in this situation? What needs to change in order to get you to a place of peace?
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