Matthew 10: 9-15: “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.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. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
We can learn something from Jesus’ instructions to the twelve. First, he told them not to take provisions for the journey, but to count on the generosity of the people to support them. Why? “For the worker is worth his keep.” While Paul made his own way by making tents, we should not expect that of those who give themselves to the full time work of the gospel. They are worth their keep.
Second, how long to you keep working with someone who doesn’t seem to be responding to the message of the gospel? Jesus says, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake off the dust of your feet.” Simply put, don’t feel guilty if someone doesn’t want you to share the gospel with them. They’ve rejected the gospel, not you. Move on because there are more opportunities where people will listen to you.
This advice has helped me when I’ve worked with prospects or members of the church who stopped coming to church. As long as they welcome me and are willing to listen to the word when I bring it to them, I will keep coming back. But when they say, “Don’t come back,” then I know that it’s time to move on. As I leave, I pray that Jesus will find a way to reach their hearts and do what I was unable to do.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, give me courage and patience and persistence to reach out to as many people as I can with your Word. Teach me not to give up easily, for every soul is precious in your sight. But when some refuse to listen, then give me the wisdom to know when a door has been shut for me so that I can move on to bring the gospel to others. I ask this in your name. Amen.
Matthew 10:16-20: 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Can you imagine hearing these words on your ordination day? Brothers in East Asia and other parts of the world could relate well to these words. Literally, they put their life on the line when they to out and preach the gospel in Jesus’ name.
But notice that Jesus said they would be “flogged in the synagogues.” God’s Word is still opposed by those who do not want to hear it, even in the church. I remember preaching a sermon on the dangers of loving our possessions more than God. A member took me aside after church and said, “Pastor, if you keep preaching like that, you won’t have many people left in the pews. We work hard for the things we have.” We can be thankful they outlawed flogging!
Jesus also said, “Be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” There is a time for a strong answer and a time for a gentle answer. There is a time to speak up and a time to remain silent. We don’t have to invite persecution, but neither can we avoid it. I pray that Jesus will always give me the wisdom to preach the gospel according to the circumstances that he has given me.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, in spite of forty years of ministry, I know that I am always learning. Every situation that I run into requires wisdom that only you can give me. I pray that you would give me the courage to proclaim your word no matter what the circumstances, and the wisdom to do so in such a way that your gospel is clearly proclaimed. I ask this in your name. Amen.