Q. Who was the first tennis player in the Bible? A. Joseph- cause he served in Pharaoh’s court
Q. How do you make holy water? A You boil the hell out of it.
After reading those three jokes, some of you may be shaking your shoulders in laughter. Some of you may comment “LOL” with a straight expressionless face, while some of you may think, “Ernest, you’re a sad, sad man.” Some may call the first joke unsuitable, the second funny and the third derogatory. They say humour is relative, Beloved. But what the Bible say about humour?
There are several instances in scripture when we are told people laughed. It may be hard to get the joke because cultures make it relative and translation of text from one language to another can kill the joke. I found out that when Jesus gave the parable on the log in the eye, it was a humorous expression at that time. Today, it is a very grave example to use when talking about the topic of hypocrisy. So I gathered a few verses on laughter and derived a few lessons from them.
Proverbs 37:13 says But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.
Our God is just that awesome guy!
Laughter is good for our health
I know many doctors have done research papers on laughter and its benefit for our health but the scriptures beat them to it.
Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”
We can laugh in the presence of God
Genesis 17:17 says “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
When Abraham was laughing, God was seriously delivering a powerful message. Even his own wife Sarah laughed at the idea of giving birth. When the Lord asked Sarah why she laughed, she denied it. Though it was unbelief on her part, the Lord did not condemn the very act of laughing.
Laughter can reveal foolishness
Ecclesiastes 7:6 says “Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless”
There is a kind of laughter that reveals foolishness in us. I haven’t quite found the proper way to define it; however, I have noted that when it involves spending time with counter-productive people who squander the gift of time, it can’t be good laughter. It’s meaningless. What you laugh at and who you laugh with can reveal whether you are a fool or not.
Laughter is a blessing from the Lord.
Job 8:21 says “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
God’s blessings can make you excited enough to laugh!
Laughter used in an argument may mean one of you is a fool.
Proverbs 29:9 says If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
The key word there is argument. It’s not a discussion but rather a contentious dispute. If you argue with a fool, he may start laughing. Chances are you will get angry. And when you do lose your cool, nobody will tell the difference between the two of you.
Laughter doesn’t always mean people are happy
Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.
Who knew Robin Williams was depressed?
God promises laughter for those that weep
Luke 6:21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
This world is full of chaos but one day those who follow Jesus will laugh about it because it is temporary.
God detests flippant humour
Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
This last point is really the crux of the blog. Flippant humour is joking about virtue. It is making a shame of things that God upholds highly. Followers of Christ ought to be careful because flippant humour darkens the soul. When I read C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, I came upon a part where the Senior devil, Screwtape, tells his nephew and junior devil, Wormwood, how flippancy is a brilliant tool to darken the soul of a Christian and move him away from the Enemy (God). It made me realize why Ephesians 5:4 is a weighty verse. C.S. Lewis writes:
“But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.”
When believers make fun of the virgin birth, the life of Jesus Christ, sexual purity, the name of God, marriage and lots of other virtuous things that God upholds, we act more like the devil and less like our Lord. It’s worldliness, Beloved. Often I have seen believers share memes that straight-out mock the Lord and they have no qualms at all. I have made it a rule in my life that if I share anything humourous with an opening statement like, “I know it’s wrong but it’s funny,” chances are that I am dishonouring Christ. A certain meme was doing rounds and a few of my Christian friends were sharing it. The meme was a picture of a woman on top of a man (having sex obviously). The picture was from the torso up (leaving very little room for imagination). The writing on the picture said something like, “This could have been us but I’m sure glad it is not because I don’t see any room for the Holy Spirit between us.” Of course the Christians sharing it were laughing at how funny it was since we Christians uphold sexual purity. However, if there is anything that the scriptures teach us about purity, is that it starts with our minds and not when we take our clothes off in front of someone we are not married to. The picture in the meme supported the message of purity but in a very flippant way.
Beloved, I’m learning the enemy is not always wielding a battle-axe to take down believers. Nay, Beloved. Often, he comes in the form of “harmless” entertainment that mocks the creator. He comes in the form of flippant comedy on YouTube channels that mock Christ. As Paul would say in 2nd Corinthians 13:5, if you act like this, examine yourself, Beloved Christian, if you are really born again in the first place.
I am aware there are those that may say, “Ernest, loosen up. Sure it may look and sound flippant but it’s just a joke at the end of the day.” And to that, the scriptures have an answer already. After talking about avoiding flippant humour, the Lord through Paul says in Ephesians 5:6-8 “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behaviour should show it”! (NLT)
You see humour is relative but God is the same. However, I strongly believe that God is a humorous God. Some people who take themselves too seriously may fail to see it but I’m convinced that the ability to make people laugh is God-given. I believe when we meet him in heaven, we may see that God is many things that we may not know. For instance, God is a gentleman- he was so kind that he drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden instead of letting them walk. Do have a humorous day!