Wholesome Humor

All uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, . . . neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting. – Ephesians 5:3-4 

Abraham Lincoln faced enormous pressures as president during the US Civil War. Without humor, it’s doubtful he would have been able to bear the strain. When emotions ran high in cabinet meetings, he often told a funny story to break the tension. Laughing at himself kept him from becoming defensive. And a good story with a strong point sometimes won over an opponent.

The spontaneity of humor reflects the way God created man. It is both physically and emotionally beneficial. Laughter can keep a tense situation from ending in bitter words or hard feelings.

Although Jesus was a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), I believe He laughed often. Sometimes Jesus used humor to make a point. Imagine a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle! (Matthew 19:24).

But there’s also a dark side to humor. Paul called it “coarse jesting” and said that it should have no place in the believer’s life (Ephesians 5:4). It demeans, degrades, and defiles those who use it and those who hear it.

So what do we laugh at? What kinds of stories do we tell each other? Would Jesus laugh with us? I believe He would—if it were wholesome humor.

Dennis De Haan 

Give us a sense of humor, Lord,

Give us the grace to laugh and smile;

But check our lips from needless jest

That what we speak may be worthwhile.

Anon.

To laugh is to be fully human.

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