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How Silly Talk Becomes Sinful

by J. M. Farro on May 19th, 2019

   “Let there be no filthiness and SILLY TALK, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God].”  Ephesians 5:4 AMP

   I recently did a study on why the Bible condemns “silly talk” in the lives of believers, because I know that our speech can affect God’s ability to bless us and use us for His glory.  I discovered that God is not against humor, in general.  But He says that “silly talk” is “not appropriate” for followers of Christ in certain instances.

   First, humor can be sinful when it doesn’t fit the occasion.  In serious situations, or when we know that others are hurting, it is inappropriate for us to use humor to attempt to get people to “lighten up.”  Scripture says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 NASB)

   Second, silly talk is wrong when it is self-serving, and we are trying to look clever at the expense of others.  The Bible says, “Anyone who would trick someone and then say, ‘I was only joking’ is like a fool who shoots flaming arrows into the air and accidentally kills someone.”  (Proverbs 26:18-19 ERV)  It’s okay to have a healthy sense of playfulness, but when our words are insulting or hurtful, we have crossed over into the enemy’s territory, and we are at risk of doing irreparable harm to our relationships.

   Third, humor is sinful when it is blatantly demeaning to another person or group.  Jesus said, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment.  Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang.  Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier.” (Luke 6:37 MSG)

   Fourth, insulting others – even in jest – is sinful.  Jesus said, “If you insult someone, you will be judged by the high court.  And if you call someone a fool, you will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22 ERV)  Even if someone insults us first, it’s wrong for us to retaliate.  “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.  On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9 NIV)

   The fifth one is a no-brainer.  It is never appropriate for a Christian to tell jokes that are rude, crude, or dirty.  “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)

   We have all known people – including Christians – who try to be funny, but eventually go too far.  They totally ignore the effect that they have on other people, and that, in itself, is sinful.  We are called to “build others up,” and to constantly “speak of [our] thankfulness to God.”  The Lord once told the prophet Jeremiah, “If you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be My spokesman.” (Jeremiah 15:19 NIV)  God is saying the same thing to you and me today.  Let’s not hinder Him from blessing us and using us to the full extent that He longs to!

   Lord, I regret the times that I have tried to be funny and get a laugh from others at the expense of someone else.  Work in my heart so that I will avoid the kind of silly talk and coarse joking that “are not appropriate for believers.”  Teach me how to speak “kind words [that] heal and help,” and to avoid “cutting words [that] wound and maim.” (Proverbs 15:4 MSG)  Thank You that as I speak words of life and thankfulness to God, You will bless me and use me in extraordinary ways for Your glory!

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