It is true that laughter is the best medicine, but what about times when jokes bring about laughter at someone else’s expense? Have you ever heard someone cut another person down with a “joke” and then proclaim, “JUST KIDDING!”? More than likely, the jokester was really not kidding. He was probably trying to get across his message of offense. He may not even realize that what was in his heart of offense came out like arrows to the victim causing a yoke of bondage (not just for the victim of the joke, but more for the one who told the joke). 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.”
Another way of letting jokes become yokes of bondage is the use of sarcasm. The definition of the word “sarcasm” is “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt: his voice, hardened by sarcasm, could not hide his resentment.” The Greek word for “sarcasm” is “sarkazein” and it means to “tear flesh.” OUCH! We need to check ourselves before we open our mouths to use sarcasm. Do we really want to tear someone’s flesh? In the Hebrew culture of the Bible times, they often used word pictures to convey deeper meanings of words. The word picture for bitter words people say is arrows. Psalm 64:2-3 shows this truth: (NLT) “Hide me from the plots of this evil mob, from this gang of wrongdoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their bitter words like arrows.”
God is not pleased with this kind of “joking.” In fact, He lists that in the midst of a list of sins to avoid in Ephesians 5:3-4 (NLT): “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes--these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” Going on to verses 7-8: “Don’t participate in the thins these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”
If you have a tendency to offer “coarse jokes” at other people’s expense, pray about it. Ask God to show you the deeper wounds in your own heart that would cause you to lash out in sarcasm. Pray for God to reveal His perspective about what is in your heart and why the other person does things that grate on your nerves. He will show you things about yourself and about the other person that will help you to show kindness instead of shooting arrows with your words.