Posted by: SandreS | November 2, 2009

Jesting

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:3-4).

In this passage we read Paul’s warnings, among other things, about “jesting.” Surely, there is nothing wrong with wholesome wit. In fact, a merry heart can be a great benefit in day-to-day living (c.f. Proverbs 17:22). A “sense of humor” can, indeed, go a long way, but “jesting” is humor without mercy. It is humor that tears down rather than builds up, and is unbecoming of saints. It’s simply not who we are.

“Jesting” or “jabbing” is as prevalent in our day as in Paul’s. Jesting forgets Paul’s admonition to “let your speech be always with grace …” (Colossians 4:6).

Let us notice the definition of jest:

To cast reproaches and sneering expressions; to rail at; to utter taunting, sarcastic words; to flout [mock or insult]; to fleer [derision or mockery]; to scoff (Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828).

To utter gibes [sneers] or taunts, to give utterance to ridicule; to scoff, jeer, mock (Oxford English Dictionary).

In part, Strong’s Greek Lexicon defines the Greek word here (#2160 eutrapelia) as “repartee,” which Webster defines as “to make smart, witty replies.”

Jesting is a major form of humor in our day – humor that cuts-down and insults. Modern comedy is often built on the foundation of jesting – who can best “one-up” the other in ridicule, taunting and sarcastic one-liner “comebacks.”

It is sad to see this form of “humor” enter into the life of Christ’s Body. It is unbecoming of saints. It is not who we are, but it does happen. Instead of giving thanks and praise, we give ribbing and roasting. Instead of encouraging and edifying, we jeer and taunt – all in the name of supposed “good fun.” Then after we sense that a dear fellow member has been hurt by our misconduct, we are quick to rejoin, “Oh, I was just kidding,” or, “I only meant it in jest.”

Dearly beloved, let us cast off the jovial jabbing to Adam’s race. We can better use our time together to encourage, edify and, with a merry heart, give thanks for and to one another.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook #47
© Bible Student’s Press, 2000, 2009

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