“I was only joking”…

someone says, as they are faced with their own words, which hurt or angered someone else. Last week, in the article, I spoke about the importance of guarding our words which may hurt others unnecessarily. The following excerpt of an excellent article by Bill Bagents is based on a Biblical proverb.

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking’”  (Proverbs 26:18-19).

This brings to mind the famous statement of Deuteronomy 10:13 about the commandments and statues of the Lord “which I command you today for your good.” We are so blessed to be protected by the wisdom of God as we keep his word.

We never know how fragile another person might be, but we won’t be tempted to press that person if we follow Matt. 7:12, Matt. 22:39-40, Eph. 4:29 and Phil. 2:3-4. Each of those passages would protect us from exposing another person to danger.

We never know when a “joke” based in deception will backfire, but we know Ephesians 4:25, Therefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor, for we are member of one another.” We know this was written to Christians about the treatment of fellow Christians, but we also know we should not lie, period.

I love good humor – humor that doesn’t endanger others, humor that doesn’t diminish others. I hate evil humor – humor that causes pain, stress, or embarrassment; humor that open doors for the devil. God has always known the danger and the difference. How blessed we are to access and appreciate his wisdom.”

Let Your Speech Always Be With Grace

Have you ever wanted to cut out your tongue after saying something particularly hurtful to someone? Have you ever learned, after the fact, that what you said was hurtful? God knows about that problem. In James 3:6, He says “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…” Some folks have lived their lives being “sharp tongued.” Some have always be quick to speak and thoughtless about the consequences. When we live in the same place for years or attend the same congregation for years, people get to know us. If we frequently offend with the tongue, they get used to it (without necessarily liking it).

But what happens when a congregation begins to grow? New members from every walk of life and every conceivable background become part of our family. They become involved in the conversations taking place and often are the subject of conversations taking place. This is why the admonitions about the tongue are so important. This is a place where the tongue can kindle a great fire if we are not careful. This is when we might voice prejudices that are hurtful or express attitudes that are not Christ-like. Verbal offenses can abound if we are not careful.

The new converts, especially, are growing (sometimes faster than long time members). We all have “baggage” that comes with us. Let those of us who are mature in Christ treat real or perceived ‘issues’ with great acts of loving acceptance of the new family member. Erroneous understandings, moral dilemmas, improper speech, and long developed sinful practices and attitudes take time to change (consider some of us in the church for years).

May I encourage us all to follow the Bible admonitions? “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath:” (James 1:19). “If any man among you seem to be religious and briddleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov. 25:11).

Mike Glenn