Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Importance of Humor

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened." (1 Kings 18:27).

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24).

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3).

The door turns on its hinges, and the lazy man on his bed (Proverbs 26:14).

Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion(Proverbs 11:22).

Better to live on a corner of a roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife (Proverbs 25:24).

Does God have a sense of humor? Not according to British mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) who claimed a total void of humor within the Bible. Pray tell, one wonders, how he missed the mirth? How can one pass over verses like those above and not grin? Throughout the Bible, there are puns, satires, riddles and plays on words. There's irony, sarcasm, hyperbole and exaggeration.

Every time I come across the "speck in the eye" verse, I smile. It makes me think. And it creates a mental picture that makes me laugh. Though He's making a searing point about hypocrisy, I find in this verse what I perceive to be a sense of humor on the part of Jesus.

We took a group of first graders on a field trip last week to the Dallas City Park. My friend, Carrie, made me laugh so hard I hurt (Jamey: see "comments" under "Choosing Contentment"). It was good for the soul. My friend, Amy, keeps me in stitches across the miles with silly jokes we've been sharing for many years. I think of other friends who are especially close. Without exception, they all have a good sense of humor. God has given us the capacity to laugh. Sometimes, I believe, so that we might survive.

My oldest brother is a hospital pharmacist in Oregon. When I was undergoing cancer treatments, he told me about the lady who showed some months after her last round of chemotheraphy. The bone-straight hair she'd lost during cancer therapy had grown back short and curly. "How do you like my $118,000 perm?" she deadpanned. This made me smile in the midst of my own circumstances.

People Magazine just declared George Clooney the "sexiest man alive." When asked what qualities he most desires in a woman, what do you suppose he said? Long legs? Perfect smile? Oscars on the mantle? Nope. George says a "sense of humor" is the most important criterion. (For what that's worth, ladies...)

Humor is important. It can turn, as they say, a frown upside down. It elevates those around us. It can also be utilized, judicially, in our efforts to lead people to Christ. Those with a good sense of humor tend to have warmth. People want to be around them. And as we seek to reach the lost, this becomes a potentially powerful tool for gaining entry into someone's world.

Having a sense of humor isn't about trying to be the funniest person in the room. Or memorizing punch lines. Your style of humor is unique to you. And how you receive humor is just as important as how it's delivered. Let's explore in a two-part how a sense of humor can be developed!

Coming Soon: Part II: Ministering Through Humor

(Photo by wizziebob. See for restrictions.)


Jamey said...

If life weren't so funny I think that I would cry......

BTW, I don't recall an attack squirrel and Carrie in the bathroom however, I may have blocked it out.

Seriously, I have to admit that as a mother I do get too serious from time to time. I was commenting with a new friend last week (yes, I have a new friend!) that I just wasn't very much fun anymore. A little too serious, too many check lists, dog hair to swifter, kids to carpool, seems to go on and on and on. But I know that (especially as a mom of future moms a.k.a. - girls) I am teaching my children - through my actions and reactions - how to live and react to life.

Thanks for the good reminder to lighten up. God created me in His image and gave me the ability to appreciate humor and laugh. If it's good enough for Him it is good enough for me!

della said...

Laughter is wonderful! I'm with you, Sarah - I don't know how any thinking person could miss the humor throughout the Bible.

My best friends are those with whom I share moments (or hours) which leave me breathless and exhilarated from laughing.

One of the most beautiful things about my daughter is the way she is so quick to laugh. I adore how she throws her head back and laughs with complete abandonment. Her joy is contagious.

Laughter is a beautiful gift!

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Jamey... why would I be surprised that you have a new friend? It's a well known fact that you are the very center of all things friendly... that's why we all MISS YOU SO MUCH!!!!

Della... I've seen that laugh you describe... and it's truly a beautiful thing. I think you and John have done a great job fostering an environment that encourages joy to thrive.