“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). One of the obvious results of a merry heart is a good dose of laughter, but even the most casual survey of the Scriptures would convince the reader that God is not recommending the laughter of skepticism or the laughter of sinful merriment. This is the laughter which echoes from the pool halls, locker rooms, dance halls, juke joints, country clubs, night clubs, penthouse apartments, and universities of America. It is frantic, spasmodic, hectic, and temporary and is shortly followed by weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth (Proverbs 23:32; Galatians 6:7,8). “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17). This observation describes it nicely with just the right touch of realism: enough to discourage any skeptic from spending too much time in the Book of Proverbs.
God-approved laughter is low calorie, caffeine free, no salt, no preservatives or additives, 100% natural, and one size fits all. Laughter is truly God’s gift. You can get high on laughter but never overdose. It is contagious, for once it starts, little can be done to stop it. Laughter never felt bad, committed a crime, started a war or broke a relationship. It is shared by the giver and the receiver, costing nothing and is nontaxable.
One of the most constructive uses of laughter is laughing at ourselves. If we can laugh at ourselves, we leave little room for others to laugh at us. Herein lies a scoundrel of left wing political correctness. Genuine, good natured laughter aimed at the human race is no longer tolerated and must be eradicated at all cost. Two generations ago millions of Americans listened to the adventures of Amos and Andy on the radio. They tuned in weekly, not because they were racist but rather to enjoy the wonderful humor that came from an exposition of the black culture. Real racists would refuse to render the slightest degree of satisfaction to the “hated” by finding any amusement in the program.
Forty years ago I invited a black preacher who I greatly admired to fill our pulpit. At first he expressed a slight amount of concern to accept the invitation because our congregation was primarily white. I assured him that he would not experience any negativity. I introduced our guest speaker with sincere accolades, but he reintroduced himself with self-deprecating humor. He said, “My name is S.M. Lockridge…now folks ask me what the S.M. stands for, and I tell them it stands for Shadrach Meshach Lockridge. Then some asked what happened to Abed-nego, and I tell them we wanted no confusion with 'a bad negro.’” The audience loved it! He went on to say: “When I was in seminary my house burned down so people called me Shadrach, no shack Lockridge.” By the time he finished with these hilarious one liners, the packed house was eagerly awaiting his message. Dr. Lockridge went on to preach a marvelous sermon on the Lordship of Jesus Christ that is rehearsed and remembered in that church four decades later. The success of it was due in part to his willingness to laugh at himself.
Liberals appear to lack any ability to engage in this wonderful exercise. Their only target of humor is those who oppose their agenda, but to laugh at themselves is a foreign concept. Anger seems to be their favorite emotion which depletes the human spirit. “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24,25). As noted in last week’s column the Christian has the Biblical authority to get angry with a cause but is warned about the repercussions of perpetual hostility. When you are done cussing Congress the best relief valve may be found in chuckling at your own weird idiosyncrasies. Stay balanced…..”A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1).
The best example of balance is the Lord Himself. God’s wrath and anger is well documented in Scripture. Commentaries frequently suggest that there is no record of Jesus laughing, but this is in keeping with the purpose of His earthly ministry described in Isaiah 53:3: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief..” Divine laughter is reserved for the future, but it is set in a cathedral of justice that defies the liberal mind. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regardeth; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.” (Proverbs 1:24-26) It is intolerable to think of God laughing at the damnation of a sinner or nation, yet it seems quite respectable for sinners to laugh at the death of God’s Son (Matthew 27:41; Psalm 22:7) and at God’s Word. (Acts 17:32) Why one of the laughters is acceptable and the other is not lies within mankind’s subjective depravity. The worldly saying is: “He who laughs last, laughs best.” But it is the Creator Who has the “last laugh.”
In the meantime I shall consider the Christ-rejecting sinner with sorrow (Matthew 20:34), compassion (Luke 19:41), and pity (John 11:31-40) but not laughter, for that is God’s prerogative alone. Finding humor in the insanities of myself, my fellow Christians, and Congress is a large enough banquet.