17 ¶ Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
This is certainly about overstaying your welcome. This is true about visiting friends or countries that “liberate” and occupy other countries. This goes along with the previous Proverb on overdoing something and excess.
Let’s talk about telling others about the Gospel. Evangelical Christians, those who spend time propagating the faith by things like handing out tracts, knocking on doors, and street preaching need to learn to not only be respectful of other people’s property but of their time. Stopping someone rushing on their way to work and trying to get them into a conversation about where they’re going to spend eternity might just not produce the results you would like although it may make you feel good, as if you’ve done your part. But, you haven’t. Turning people away with disrespectful behavior is not a way to point someone to the Saviour.
I am particularly sensitive to people who have no respect for my time, people who seem to feel that my life is totally meaningless in that whatever I would have to do is unimportant or that the pressures I face mean nothing. If you are constantly wearing people’s patience thin and don’t seem to know when to leave maybe you should realize you’re a shallow boor and set yourself a time limit. On a busy street or at the gas pumps in the morning maybe its best to hand the person a gospel tract and then leave it open to talk but acknowledge you understand they’re probably in a hurry. If this is a “divine appointment” then they’ll start asking you questions, but if not, they’ll move on. I say “divine appointment” because sometimes God puts people in your path or you in theirs in order to lead them closer to Him.
At someone’s door the conversation should be brief unless they invite you in or they come outside to talk further. Don’t stand there for a half hour while a person tries to politely hold the door open but keep you from coming inside. Some people are just too polite to say “go away” but their heart becomes harder and harder as you talk on seemingly endlessly. You should be sensitive to the person who wants to know more and to the person who just wants to get back to enjoying their time at home.
Just remember, God is not lucky to have you on His team. You are not doing God a favor. He doesn’t need any of us to save anyone and He does the actually saving anyway. We usually just plant seeds. Be respectful of other people’s time and property. You are not advertising for a pizza delivery store. You are there to possibly meet with that one person who has been waiting for someone like you to stop by and give them the Gospel of Salvation. That tract you hand out at the gas pump may lie in a person’s floorboard for days or weeks before it is read, long after the person has forgotten who gave it to them. Make sure the tract has some contact information on it, at least someone they can call or email if they so choose, but at best the physical address of a church they can visit.
You are not trying to make a sale. You do not have to have an immediate decision. You might reap a harvest but then, most of the time, you are merely planting a seed. Don’t belabor the issue. There is nothing worse for you than to have someone see you approach their front door, their teeth grinding and their blood pressure spiking, just dreading that you are going to be an obnoxious, rude, pest, and then finding out their fears were correct.
Finally, don’t take rejection personally. Some people reject Christ dozens of times before they receive Him. Others, most, never receive Christ as their Saviour. It’s not about you. It’s about Him. You are just a messenger.