A popular gripe with the Bible is that, for all of its verses, it doesn’t seem to address specific issues for daily life. Like, where is the verse on how to politely decline a dinner invite or address one’s halitosis? In short, you won’t find a specific verse on those things. And yet, for all of the grumbling on what Scripture seemingly doesn’t provide, something must be said in respect to all that it does say IF we’d only seriously read it through.

This came up a couple of days ago when I was passing some time in Proverbs and came across a gem in Proverbs 26:18-19:

Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death
is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”

I read it once, read it twice and chuckled as I thought to myself, “The church really needs this verse to be better known.” If I had a dollar for every time I, or someone else, said something hurtful only to attempt to cover it with a laugh or a, “I’m just playing”! I’d be a very, very rich man. What are we doing when we do this? And why is it so harmful?

Well, for starters, we do it because of sin: that within us that causes us to rebel against God and despise those made in His image. But more specifically, perhaps, it is because we simultaneously want to gratify our desire. In our sarcasm or mockery, we entertain ourselves at the cost of others’ feelings; we fail to care for them. We want our sin and are happy to make love a casualty of it.

And why is this so harmful? It’s a world of harm because instead of showing the world we belong to Christ by our love for one another, and confidence in the blood of Christ to restore us from sin, we appear cowardly and unloving. As a young adult mentioned in reply to the verse, “Where we are flippant and hurtful, Jesus is serious and instructive.” As slaves of Christ, we should follow His lead.

I was so taken by the verse that morning that I shared it with a group of saints and received a reply that put the horrors of the sin far better than I ever could:

I’m thinking of times that I’ve openly made fun of people and, if they caught on, brushed it off as not being serious or having fun with them. The lie was in acting like I cared about them. And it added deceit on top of the original sin of mocking them.

Church, let’s do more than act like we care for one another, but let us truly care. Admitting faults where we find them, speaking the truth in love, and never calling things a joke when we are in fact dead serious.

David Noel, Jr.

David Noel, Jr. is GRC’s Director of Youth Ministry. He and his wife, Nendir, now live in New Jersey.