[biblevotd version=”KJV”] Before 2001 I was the type of person living with the motto of “You gotta laugh!” In everything I did I found ways to joke and jest or to bring some sort of levity either in my conversation or what I was doing. Why? Because I believed we needed joy in our lives and laughter brought on joy, so I thought.
But does laughter create the joy? Let us consider where true joy is from.
“A Christian is the highest type of a man, because he is Christlike, and when he departs from the principles that are after Christ’s order he is often ignorant that he has done wrong. The Lord sets the case before him as it is, as he is. He does not specify all his wrongs but gives him a chance to manifest that he is a true child of God by his repentance and confession, not only of the sins specified but of those which conscience sets in order before him. In doing this work he reveals he has made an open rupture with Satan and with sin. He feels his weakness, he lays hold with earnest purpose and living faith upon the strength of God, and is an overcomer. Great becomes his peace, his joy, for it comes from the Lord, and there is nothing more acceptable in the sight of God than the continual humiliation of the soul before Him. These evidences are unmistakable proofs that the Lord has touched hearts by His Holy Spirit. More wonderful than miracles of physical healing is the miracle wrought in the child of God in wrestling with natural defects and overcoming them. The universe of God looks upon him with joy far greater than on any splendid outward display. The inward character is molded after the divine Pattern. . . ..” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 8, 184:1.
Does joking, jesting and foolish talking point to Christ Jesus? No.
In my years of joking, jesting, foolish talking, and light-hearted conversation, these things often brought attention to self or to de-mean another. Please understand I am not sharing that we should not laugh. But rather we should provoke one another to love because it is written in the scriptures that we are absolutely taught not to talk foolishly or to jest.
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5:1-5.
So what is a little bit of joking, jesting, light-hearted conversation and foolish talking really going to do?
During a visit with friends I met another who was of a position within the church. But I was taken back because they joked and jested ever so lightly. I found within me pondering why they had done so when the scriptures are so concise. Unfortunately there was a wall of trust that was torn down and I found myself questioning “If they had disregarded the Lord’s instructions here, will they disregard more instructions? Can I trust them?”
“There is a great and solemn work devolving upon ministers; but many have not felt its weight sufficiently to balance them, and lead them to walk circumspectly. Out of the desk, their ministerial labors cease almost entirely, and their example is not worthy of imitation. Their light, jesting conversation may entertain and provoke mirth; but both believers and unbelievers lose confidence in them as Christ’s ambassadors. Such ministers may present a theory of truth to the people; but they have not felt its sanctifying power on their own souls, and the word spoken has but little effect.” Gospel Workers, 1892, 415:2.
If we speak with foolish and light-hearted words are we truly testifying that Christ died and that He is the most important aspect of our lives?
“The example which Christ has given to the world forbids all levity and cheapness, and if the life is made fragrant by the grace of God, these elements will not appear. A genuine cheerfulness, an uplifting influence, will flow forth from all who love God and keep His commandments. And this carries with it a convincing, converting power. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), says the apostle. Why with fear and trembling? Lest you shall in any way misrepresent your holy faith by lightness, by trifling, by jesting or joking, and thus give others the impression that the truth which you profess has no sanctifying influence upon the character.
“As followers of Christ we should make our words such as to be a help and an encouragement to one another in the Christian life. Far more than we do, we need to speak of the precious chapters in our experience. We should speak of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless depths of the Saviour’s love. Our words should be words of praise and thanksgiving. If the mind and heart are full of the love of God, this will be revealed in the conversation. . . . Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for piety and holiness, will bear fruit in words that reveal the character of the heart treasure. When Christ is thus revealed in our speech, it will have power in winning souls to Him.“ That I May Know Him, 138:4.
Do we being sons and daughters of the Most High have a special privilege? Yes!
“To our ministers, physicians, teachers, and all others engaged in any line of service for the Master, I have a message to bear. The Lord bids you to come up higher, to reach a holier standard. You must have an experience much deeper than you have yet even thought of having.”
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10.