Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 reads, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, AND A TIME TO LAUGH; …” You read that right; the wisest man the Bible and the world have ever known says there is “a time to laugh.”
We have plenty to be sorrowful of, but there is a time for all humans, and especially Christians, to be humored or “to laugh.” There is a time to mature in your character and there are times to “be a character.”
Consider some more words from Solomon – “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:13-15). People who are happy are continually happy. Ever notice that? Happy people stay happy. Happy people love to laugh and enjoy life. When your life is cheerful, life is a feast. Humor and laughter are gifts from God that help cultivate a cheerful heart.
There are plenty of examples of humor in the Bible: the donkey and Balaam (Genesis 22), Aaron’s explanation of how the golden calf was created (Exodus 32), Elijah talking trash with the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18),
Proverbs 19:24, 22:13, Eutychus falling asleep during one of Paul’s sermons (Acts 20), etc.
Even God laughs at nations who are foolish – “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision” (Psalm 2:4). It’s as if God says, “Huh! You’re kidding me right!” Why the world is in chaos, God sits on His throne calmly and is somewhat amused there are some plotting against Him.
God laughs at those who think they can thwart His plans – “The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.” (Psalm 37:13).
Humor produces joy.
Joy is not optional for the Christian. Joy is essential; it is not optional. I suggest to you that humor is a means of grace that God uses to produce joy. The Bible says, “…The joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10). That means if you lack joy, you will lack sufficient strength and energy to pursue God. If you lack joy, serving God will seem like duty – at best – and never delight. So joy really becomes the source of all godly humor. Plus, it’s cheaper than any medication.
Laughter is a medicine. Humor produces joy; that is why we like to be around people who are funny. And if you struggle with joy, my advice to you: spend time around people who are funny and filled with continual joy.
Humor cultivates humility.
Only humble people are truly happy, because humble people are willing to laugh at themselves and do so often. There is plenty to laugh at with ourselves. You will and should be the object of your own humor; you provide too much material to work with!
Humble people can laugh at themselves and allow themselves to be the center of others jokes. Be willing to make fun of yourself often. Get used to self-deprecating humor. But enjoy making fun of yourself more than others. Learn to laugh at yourself because you are a joke!
C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Surprised by Joy, “Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego. . . . Only the truly humble belong to this kingdom of divine laughter. . . Humor and humility should keep good company. Self deprecating humor can be a healthy reminder that we are not the center of the universe, that humility is our proper posture before our fellow humans as well as before almighty God. . . . I suppose we should mind humiliation less if we were but humbler.”
Don’t be afraid of “humiliating moments of sanctification!” The older you get, the more frequently they occur.
Humor serves others.
Everybody appreciates humor. We love to laugh. But are their guidelines to keep in mind? Yes. Consider Ephesians 4:29 as evaluation of our use of humor – “Let no corrupt word (or “rotten word” – used to describe rotting meat or putrid fruit) proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification (things instructive, helpful, encouraging, uplifting), that it may impart grace to the hearers.” As long as nothing unedifying is coming from your humorous lips, it will serve and minister to others. Humor can be a ministry … if you use it correctly.
What should Christians laugh and not laugh at? Don’t laugh at what God doesn’t find humorous. As John Piper instructs us, “Don’t tell stories or jokes about precious things that make it hard to treat them as precious.” Don’t allow your humor to control you; control it.
Humor produces joy; humor cultivates humility; humor serves others. So don’t waste any of it. Learn to laugh; it may just be one of the most underrated ways to witness to a sad, depressed world.