Proverbs 26:18-19 (NLT)
Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.”
Prank Videos have become big business online. There are entire YouTube channels dedicated to practical jokes which garner hundreds of millions of views as people gather around for some twisted entertainment…at other people’s expense. As the sinful laughs gather steam, so do the advertising dollars, and the “I was only joking” business goes on and on with no end in sight.
Have you ever followed up a little white lie with “I was only joking”? Have you ever replied to a serious question with an embellished and/or outlandish answer in order to get a laugh? How many practical jokes have your name written on them? Are you a sarcastic person? Sarcasm is “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt,” and while it may be an effective way to make a point, it can also fall into line with today’s warning from Solomon.
This is a difficult warning for me, personally, because I tend to joke around a lot with my friends and family. I sometimes give a false answer to a serious question just to “have a little fun” with the questioner. So, which is more important: Having a little “harmless fun” with my neighbor…or sticking to God’s commands regarding truth?
When we play around with the truth it takes a toll, but especially on our friends and family when we joke around too much. Is it a sin to joke around at all? I’m not 100% sure about that, but based on the arc of Scripture, as it bends towards truth and love, joking around that includes any form of deception most likely is. Our desire to “have a little fun” and then excuse it by saying, “I was only joking,” is choosing to knowingly violate God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves and then putting the burden of forgiveness on our victim.
Sadly, most of us have become all too familiar with “joking around” as an expected part of our daily lives. We garner laughs at another’s expense…or we attempt to laugh it off when the joke is on us. I believe God would have all of us re-consider just how comfortable we are with the practice, especially when we utter the words, “I was only joking.”