Shaking the dust off one’s feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. Nehemiah 5:13 “I also shook out my garment and said, “So shall God shake out any man who does not fulfill this matter, from his house and from his toil, so shall he be shaken out and empty.” Then the entire congregation said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord, and the people did according to this word.”
We speak, we show in scripture, we converse, we engage in conversation, and we wait to see what God will do in that person. If the person is receptive, we keep speaking and showing in scripture, conversing, engaging. If a person becomes combative, argumentative, insulting, rude, or simply disengages from the conversation, until or unless God provides another opening at some later time, we have done all we can do and we remove ourselves from further dialog on that matter, turning them completely over to God, however, praying for them. Praying keeps us from becoming bitter or upset over anything in the interaction, keeping our mindset God focused and love filled as we beseech God to intervene in this person’s life and turn them from where they are, to God and His truth (repentance.)
God calls me, and each and every other believer, to stand firm and proclaim truth. Biblical truth. The clear and undiluted truth that is unequivocally in the Bible. God leads us to situations, both with not yet believers, and believers, where He expects us to draw from scripture and minister to these people. Minister means take care of. Taking care of someone can be a physical act, for instance someone needs food, company while a loved one is undergoing a medical situation, help when ill and unable to run errands…the list goes on. Taking care of someone is also an emotional/spiritual act in addressing emotional pain, turmoil, life crisis, or even simple questions. And in all, we minister standing on God’s word as the foundation and we share the truth of that foundation, with love and in love, in all we say and do.
For the not yet believer, we look for God granted opportunities to share the gospel, openings for conversation, dialog. Some people will engage in conversation. Others will not. It becomes clear, as in any conversation, when it is time for us to be silent and simply let the person digest. Conversation may pick up again at another time. So when do we “shake the dust off”?
Regarding the not yet believers/not yet saved: “Go rather to the lost sheep and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 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.” Matthew 10:6-15 “Do not speak into the ears of a fool, for he will despise the sense of your words.” Proverbs 23:9 “And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5 “He who chastens a scorner takes disgrace for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man, that is his blemish. Reprove not a scorner lest he hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Proverbs 9:7-8
Regarding interactions with both the not yet believers/not yet saved and the believers/saved: “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:14-26
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11
“Shall a wise man raise his voice with opinions of wind, and does he fill his belly with the east wind? To debate over a matter from which he derives no benefit and words in which there is no avail (benefit)?” Job 15:2-3
Praying for you, and I, to remember even more deeply that we once were foolish, no different from those we hope to reach with God’s truth, but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we did but according to His own mercy. We are justified by His grace and heirs to eternal life. We are justified! This means we have no need of justifying ourselves, we do not have to prove anything to anyone. We are justified by God. So we have nothing to lose by spreading God’s gospel of Jesus and we also have nothing to lose if it becomes time for us to “shake the dust off.”