4 minute read
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-19 NIV)
Jokes cause pain.
Raised with two brothers, I understand the pain that comes when people make fun of you. No matter how old I am, they can make me feel less than with the words they speak to me—feelings of foolishness, embarrassment, rejection, and disappointment all roll together to fuel an ugly fire. Words can’t express the extent of the pain. For some reason, leaving behind our childish ways is more challenging in some situations than others. But we can.
Times, when we feel the most hurt in this world is when turning to God is hardest. Recently, when my brother’s once again made me feel less than, I asked God a question. “Are you really there?” Sometimes, God doesn’t seem present. We seek Him, but He doesn’t seem to answer. Prayers we’ve prayed for years go unanswered. God’s intangibility is difficult when we crave tangible.
Choose to believe
As I sat in my quiet place, waiting for a sign of God’s presence, I thought of my friend Mike. After his son was murdered, and he almost lost his own life, Mike had to choose. He spent his life following Jesus; would he still? He chose God. When I asked God, “Are you there?” I had a choice. Thinking of Mike, I responded to God. “I choose to believe You are.”
Another hard truth, you’ve made someone else the butt of your joke. We all have at some point. I’ve made fun of people. God forgive me, but I have. My brother’s treatment of me reminds me of that fact. As I work through the pain, I recognize my own sin. A particular instance comes to mind, which I’m humiliated to admit. Years have gone by since the incident, and all is well, but I still feel the shame.
Words hurt. They are arrows of death that sting deeply. A fine line exists between having a little fun and making them the butt of the joke. One thing is real, hurting people hurt others. Sometimes, we take things too far in our joking because of our pain.
Full confession, in my past, I made fun of others out of my pain. Placing attention on others takes it away from me. Following Jesus words changed my ways:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,” (Matthew 12:36 ESV)
Instead of tearing down with words, build people up:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)
Shoot arrows of love with your words. Give life with love.
Question of the Day:
Who do you need to build up with words of love today?