“And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
(Matthew 10:11-15 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus prepped the apostles for their first evangelical mission by telling them how to prepare for it. Today He continues with His instructions by telling them how to interact with the various people they will encounter.
We know from the parallel passage in Mark that Jesus paired up the apostles and they likely went to different locations [Mark 6:7]. When each pair entered a town or village they were to find a worthy place to stay. In other words, they were to locate a spiritually strong family and stay with them. This was to protect them and also to give their message credence. Hanging out with ungodly people would have harmed their reputation and the message they were trying to deliver.
Moreover, they were to remain there until they departed the town. They weren’t to be looking for a more comfortable home with better accommodations. Their stay would be short so where they stayed wasn’t all that important. Their focus was to be on their ministry not their own comfort. A godly family who may not have had the most fancy home to offer would suit them just fine.
I think Christians today can apply this to their jobs. No matter where we work we are God’s ambassadors on this earth. Our jobs may not be great. Our bosses may be difficult. The pay may be low. But all of that is temporary. Our temporary earthly discomfort is of little significance compared to the value of seeing others come to know Christ. We should not be job hoppers who are constantly on the look out for something better. We should stay where we are until God calls us to something else.
Things may be tough but quitting on a relationship is not the answer. It’s better to be like Paul who learned to be content in all circumstances because he was not focused on himself but on seeing the gospel spread to others [Philippians 4:11].
Notice also that Jesus tells His apostles to seek out those who are receptive to hearing the gospel. If someone is hostile to the gospel we are to have nothing to do with them [Proverbs 9:8-9]. It’s very unlikely we’d convince them to change their way of thinking anyway. Scoffers tend to dig in their heels. God will deal with such people. And He’ll deal with them in a way that is even worse than the way He dealt with Sodom and Gomorrah. That won’t be good.
This command from Jesus was not meant to keep the gospel message from anyone. It was a strategic command. Rather than spend too much time talking with someone who would not be swayed, the apostles were to spend their limited time with those who did have an interest in hearing more about God.
Such people may be hard to find. But they’re out there. Like the apostles, we should seek them out.
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