One of the most underappreciated aspects of the Bible is its sense of humor. Some would take issue with the suggestion that the Bible is filled with humor, but an honest reading bears that out. How can anyone, for instance, read the book of Jonah without chuckling. It’s hard not to smile when you read about Elijah talking smack with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
The wittiest and best humored character in the Bible is none other than Jesus himself. I’m confident there was a ripple of laughter across the crowd when Jesus questioned how some could see a speck in another’s eye when they have a log in their own. A close reading of the Gospels reveals Jesus’ teaching as chock full of similar jests.
The truth is God created us with a sense of humor. Experts note that it takes 43 muscles to frown but only 17 to smile. Based on this, many people seem to be working far too hard by carrying a scowl and a frown and a grimace through life. Seeing the humorous side of life is truly an expression of our faith in God.
The trouble with many of us is we don’t know when nor why we should laugh. First, we ought to laugh for God. We shouldn’t laugh at anything that dishonors the character of God. The Apostle Paul directed the Ephesians to avoid “crude joking” (Eph. 5:4) because it’s inconsistent with imitating Christ. While we ought to laugh for God, we should laugh with others. In Romans 12:15, Paul instructed the Romans to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Finally, we ought to laugh at ourselves. The truth is I’m the goofiest, silliest, most laughable person I know.
Unfortunately the modern day sense of humor tends to focus on laughter at the expense of someone else and is far too often characterized by sarcasm and put down. At the end of the day, this kind of humor doesn’t honor God because it makes light of those He loves. One of the most liberating lessons in life is learning to laugh at ourselves. Mastering this ability sets us free from pride, shows others that we’re down to earth, and gives them permission to laugh with us. All in all, that’s a good thing.
During these incredibly challenging times, I hope we all remember that “a joyful heart works like a medicine” (Prov. 17:22). It might do us all good to step back and find something to laugh about. I know my family has had a lot of funny things happen during this pandemic outbreak. We have found it good for our souls to take note of the comedy in the moment and spend some time laughing together. I’m certainly not suggesting this situation is funny, but I am reminding us that the joy of the Lord is our strength and God’s surest medicine for a difficult day is a joyful spirit.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.