This morning, as I was reading through my assigned chapters of Scripture for today, I came across Matthew 10. In it, the Gospel writer recounted the time when Jesus sent out His twelve Apostles to do ministry.

Matthew 10:5 (CSB) “Jesus sent out these twelve after giving them instructions: …”

The verses that follow reveal to us the instructions Jesus gave them. Most of them seem pretty benign. The Apostles would have nodded their heads in affirmation.

But, then we come to verses 14-15. The weight of Jesus’ words would have brought His Apostles back to attention if their minds had been drifting.

Matthew 10:14-15 (CSB) “If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

While the Apostles would have been doing more than just preaching and teaching, it was obviously their most important task.

If you reread what Jesus said, He told His disciples that their decision to stay or leave was based upon how receptive the people of the city were to them (the messenger) and their message (the Scripture).

Simply put, if the people did not take them seriously or take what they were saying seriously as they proclaimed the Scripture, then the Apostles were to leave.

Why?

Because ministry is about kingdom effectiveness.

A farmer could celebrate his faithfulness to planting his field … but if the field isn’t producing, his faithfulness is misplaced. God not only wants our faithfulness, He wants our fruitfulness.

That’s why Jesus told the Apostles to move on if the people of the city weren’t receptive. If the ground isn’t going to receive the Gospel and produce fruit, move on to another place and plant some more seed. If it produces, hang out and cultivate it. If it doesn’t produce, move on.

But, notice that Jesus wasn’t simply giving the Apostles instructions for their own sakes. He also said something about the cities that rejected them and their message.

Matthew 10:14-15 (CSB) “If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

Jesus noted that while the Apostles should move on if they and their message weren’t being received, He also said that those who didn’t receive them would receive a harsher judgment than did Sodom and Gomorrah (which God burned with fire).

Why?

Because God’s message and His messenger are to be taken seriously.

Whether it is an Old Testament prophet, or a New Testament preacher, or a 21st century American church member who is sharing the Gospel with their co-worker, it is a serious thing to reject (or simply fail to take seriously) God’s message and the one sharing it.

So, friend, realize that people who don’t have the Gospel are headed for a place called Hell. It is not God’s will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). So, share the Gospel with them. They must hear it so that they have the opportunity to embrace it.

But, if they reject it (or reject you), you haven’t failed. If they marginalize you, realize that faithful Gospel-proclaimers have been marginalized for millennia. And their rejection is not a small thing in God’s eyes.

Pray for them but continue sharing the Gospel with others. The seed will eventually fall on good soil, a heart that God has prepared to receive it.

Then, you will not only have been faithful … you will have been fruitful.