Have you ever gotten so angry at someone who mistreated you that if you had the power, there’d be nothing left of them but a black smudge on the ground?
Honestly, I’ve been there; and so, probably, have you. I’m just glad that when I was feeling those raw emotions, I didn’t have the power to do anything drastic about it.
But when a pair of Jesus’s disciples felt that He (and they) had been disrespected and mistreated by the residents of a Samaritan village, they did think they had the power to do something drastic about it, and wanted to:
Luke 9:52-56 (NKJV) . . . they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
What an example Jesus gives us here! Instead of receiving the Samaritans’ disrespect as an offense to Himself and reacting to it, Jesus let it roll right off His back, and just went on to the next town.
In other words, disrespect was aimed at Him, but because He refused to receive it and take it unto Himself, it couldn’t affect Him. James and John were infected with the spirit of retaliation. Jesus was animated by a spirit of love, even for those who showed anything but love to Him.
It’s very easy for me to be offended when someone shows me disrespect. But actually, it’s my choice how I react. In the moment when deliberate offense is aimed at me, I can choose to be like James and John, and look for a way to rain down fire on the culprits’ heads. Or I can choose to respond as Jesus did, recognizing that when someone deliberately communicates disrespect to me, it’s they who have the problem, not me.
Instead of trying to retaliate, I can cover their offense with God’s love, and move on.