Last night my son fell asleep on the couch after a long day without a nap. As I was looking at him, I noticed his feet were dirty. This is nothing new at our house. Yes, my children have shoes and use them often, but they also fully enjoy running around in the grass and dirt in their bare feet. Yesterday, my sons had played outside at home, helped their mother with yard work, and played at a friend’s house; all in all it was a full day for a 3-year-old child.
As I was watching my son last night I began to consider what those dirty feet would tell about a person. Dirty feet are a sign of roads being travelled. In days gone by, most people did not wear shoes, and even today sandals are still considered a preferred covering for many feet. You could always tell who had been travelling and how far by the amount of dirt and dust covering the traveler’s feet. It showed that the individual was not one to stay still, but was on the move.
Dirty feet are also a sign of work that has been done. It doesn’t take having one’s feet uncovered for them to become dirty in the course of a day’s work. When an individual has been working, whether it is in the field, the yard, or wherever in the great outdoors time is spent, dirty feet are a given. It is a sign of effort and time put into the pursuit in question.
Someone may be thinking that this discussion of one’s dirty feet is interesting, if mildly repulsive, but what does it have to do with spiritual matters? Spiritually speaking, there is something to be said for the individual with dirty spiritual feet. You see, dirty feet imply action being taken. A person’s feet do not become dirty from sitting around doing nothing, only from activity and work do they become cached with the dust and grime of the soil around them. Likewise, the Christian’s feet should be spiritually dirty from fulfilling the work of Christ. The residue of time and effort spent spreading the Gospel and helping their fellow Christians in whatever way possible should be as readily evident as dirty feet.
Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa. 52:7). Paul would quote this passage in Romans 10:15 when speaking of those who go forth proclaiming the Gospel.
Christians should have dirty feet, even if only metaphorically. Feet that are dirty from travelling roads near and far with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ; feet that are dirty from daily work striving to help fulfill the needs of others whether they be physical or spiritual; feet that are dirty from taking care of the needs of their own family.
Jesus would speak to his disciples of the necessity to “shake off the dust of your feet” (Mat. 10:14), and move on because one has ignored the Gospel or does not want help. In the days where sandals were the common footwear this was a sign of shame for one who has ignored truth, showing that no more time would be wasted on the person who is disinterested. It is certainly true that as one proclaims the Gospel, not all efforts will be successful; not all of those taught will be converted. There will be times where you must metaphorically “shake the dust off your feet” and move on; but if you have not dirtied your feet with effort, there will be nothing to shake off.
Are your feet dirty from serving the master? Do the efforts of your life show a dedication to the work and service of the King; or are they still clean because you have not yet left the house in your master’s service? As Christians, let us not be ashamed of dirty feet.