A Real Case Study
Read Part Two of this post HERE
William came to me with a question about sarcasm. He has a friend who regularly mocks or puts him down when they are together. Unfortunately, William does not have a real relationship with his friend because his friend is not transparent.
William assumes the mocking and sarcasm is a way to keep distance. His friend does struggle with the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25), so he uses the “put down” as a way to hide from having genuine relationships. William did ask his friend about this and he said making fun of people was his way of “showing affection.”
Unfortunately, the lack of discernment and care regarding William is having an adverse effect on William. Because William is struggling with his own relationship with God, he is trying to reach out to be cared for. However, in most cases his reaching out is reciprocated by some form of a put down in a public context.
The following are some thoughts I gave William, along with the obvious, which is to have a chat with his friend, guard his own heart and carefully address the log in his eye.
What It Means
Sarcasm literally means to “cut the flesh.” Therefore, a person who uses sarcasm or its twin, mocking, is a flesh cutter. No matter how you slice it, generally speaking and in the context of what the word means, you only cut that which you devalue. If you value it, you do not cut it. Therefore, sarcasm or mocking, are ways to devalue someone or something. And this is what William feels from his friend.
I Thought It Was a Gift
As a kid with four brothers, I thought mocking and sarcasm were an art form to be honed. The quicker and sharper the tongue the more adept you were at fending off the enemy. I think where I messed up is that when I became a Christian, I didn’t change my methodology as it pertained to others. I brought some things under the Lordship of my Savior, but not all things, like the tongue. What was a bad habit for the old man can hardly be exported to the new man lifestyle,repackaged and made right. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
The Biblical Category
Since sarcasm is not a biblical category, it might be helpful to bring it within a biblical framework in order to think about it more clearly. Sometimes some things lose their force when we rate or categorize them according to cultural standards. I have found it a good practice over the years to place the words and deeds I do into biblical categories in order to understand them better for the glory of God.
In the case of sarcasm, the biblical category would be unkindness. Though others may find another biblical category to fit better, I hardly think any reasonable Christian would call it “affection” or anything that connotes it as being a good thing.
In the case of mocking, we do see that in Scripture. And I’m not aware of it ever being a good thing or being in a good context whenever it is used in Scripture. Elijah is most certainly mocking the prophets of Baal, but that is an adversarial relationship, not two Christian brothers communicating with one another.
- Are you aware of how your words affect others?
- What have you done to find out how your words affect others?
- If your words are negatively affecting others, what are you doing about it?
- Would you talk to three of your friends today about this post and ask them how it applies to you?
Articles in this series
- Sarcasm, Mocking & Other Dangerous Sins – 1.0
- Sins of the Tongue – 2.0 (tomorrow’s post)