“. . . they shook off the dust . . .” Acts 13:51
Success is the standard. It’s how we measure our effort, determine our productivity and evaluate our time. Success gives a sense of accomplishment, it increases our confidence, yet often, our measure of success is not God’s.
Reflect on what the results were of this missionary tour. At Salamis no results. At Paphos no results, except for the opposition to their message. At Antioch there was an awakening, but it was quickly followed by opposition. Next was Iconium, where a large number believed, but there arose bitter opposition from the Jews as a whole, who also incited Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. Finally, at Lystra and Derbe. Jewish pursuers stir a mob against the disciples. So we see the doors closing on the apostolic witness, and at the same time a door to the Gentiles was being opened. The lesson here is clear for us. Our opportunity is always in our opposition.
It’s common to become discouraged when we don’t see tremendous results. Yet in the face of dismissal wide spread disapproval, high and mighty hostility, along with an epidemic of disillusionment, how did Paul and Barnabas remain tenacious and maintain their zeal? Their secret is found in verse 51, “they shook off the dust”.
The command to shake off the dust only appears four times in the New Testament in each case it’s spoken by Jesus to His disciples.
Jesus knew well His disciples – and human nature. If the disciples’ efforts to spread the Good News were met with rejection, He urged them not to be bogged down by failure, but to shake it off and keep going.
There are situations in life when God calls us to stand firm, proclaim truth, and give faithful testimony. Other times God gives us freedom to move on. Under Holy Spirit leading, we shake off the dust, we surrender the people and places. We let go, we move on to whatever the Lord has next. We shake off the dust in remembrance that we are only responsible for our obedience, not for the results.
What dust do you need to shake off?