18 Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death
19 is the man who deceives his neighbor
and says, “I am only joking!”
You know this man. He will say something that is insulting to you or hurtful to you. He will say something that is harsh or that causes you harm. He will trick you, leading you astray and into difficulty. Yet, when you confront him, he will tell you that he was only joking.
I know a man like this. I have one particular person in mind. He often says cruel things to people. He often stirs up trouble in his church. But, he is at least clever enough not to put himself in a position to be confronted for his actions. You see, he always treats his hurtful speech and meddling ways in the light of his sense of humor. He insults people, stirs up strife, causes division, but he does so with just enough of a sneer to be able to deny his actions and say, “It was just a joke. If I offended you, I apologize.”
Look at the words of the Scripture. Such a person, a person who hides his insults behind his supposed humor, that man is like a person who hurls flaming arrows. This person is dangerous, destructive, and deadly. Watch out for him. Do not listen to him. Do not tolerate his falsehood.
And, be warned, you might be one of these people. Are you hurtfully sarcastic? Do you like to say what you think with humor as if that somehow makes your words more tolerable? There is no place for this in the church. We are to be united and loving. We are not to use supposed humor to allow us to insult and hurt others. Those are the tricks of the world. We are to model the love of Christ.
I’m not saying that you should have no sense of humor. Of course we can laugh with each other. But we need not be so quick to laugh at each other, to take cheap shots at each other, or to put down one another. We can find other ways to laugh, ways that do not mask the evil in our hearts. Let us learn to laugh with joy and not with malice. Let us learn to love each other with our words and with our deeds. Let us learn to be a true picture of the love of God on earth.