Check out this video clip from the movie Tombstone (4:42). Look for the humor in the clip and how it was used to manage a situation that could have gone deadly. After watching it, what did you think? Do you think that it was the verbal swordplay and physical humor that diffused the situation?
There are many ways to define humor. Humor can be wit, sarcasm, irony, poking fun at ourselves or others, etc. But one of the best ways to describe humor, particularly in the Christian sense, comes through humility: not taking ourselves so seriously. So, a humble person could have a great sense of humor without much wit. Conversely, a proud person with all kinds of one-liners could have a poor sense of humor.
Mother Teresa used to say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.
Humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This means that the majority of our qualities somehow reflect God. Our sense of humor also comes from God, if He didn’t have a sense of humor, where else would we get it from? That being said, God’s humor may not always look like our humor.
Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” The word delight means, “To take great pleasure” or “To give keen enjoyment.” This delight, this enjoyment, is given to us from the Lord and we are invited to participate in it with Him.
The word “humor” does not exist in the Bible but the Bible doesn’t use the word Trinity either – but the concept most definitely exists.
When we read scripture in the Bible, we typically have a serious face on, we are focused and looking to enrich our spirit. Take a moment and put on your face of laughter and humor.
I find Saul’s story, in 1 Samuel 24, about him being in the cave taking a “break” while David is farther back in the cave quite humorous. It’s ironic, absurdly out of place — here is Saul trying to hunt David down…and he takes a break by himself in the one place David is hiding and unknowingly puts himself at David’s mercy. I think this irony and humor is intended to be seen.
One of the funnier lines from people in Scripture comes at Pentecost. The Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with tongues of fire in several different languages about Jesus. The people who heard this assumed that they were drunk. Peter replied, “It is only nine o’clock in the morning” (Acts 2:15).
I’m become a recent believer that God not only has a sense of humor but has a great sense of humor. As someone who values humor, wit, and banter (a fancy word for verbal swordplay in a teasing way), I’ve come to see it reflected in Scripture from the One who created the world. God longs to have a relationship with us and made a way for us to be with Him for eternity (John 3:16). So, I can’t imagine that if we, His most valuable creation, have wide varieties of humor that range through individual personalities, that God does not have one.
A group of pagan worshippers challenged Elijah, a prophet of God, to see whose deity could perform the best miracle. When the pagans got no response, Elijah sarcastically mocked them, saying their god must be asleep, on vacation, or using the restroom (1 Kings 18:27).
Proverbs 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;” You think?! When I read the first part, “The beginning of wisdom is…” I was expecting a list of ways to obtain wisdom, a how-to list, as it were, but, no. The writer of Proverbs was just like “to have wisdom, get wisdom.”
Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine,”
Psalm 2:4. “He who sits in the heavens laughs;”
Ecclesiastes 3:4. “A time to weep and a time to laugh…”
A torn and ragged one-dollar bill discovered that it was about to be retired from circulation. As it slowly moved along the conveyor belt to the shredder, it became acquainted and struck up a conversation with a fifty-dollar bill that was meeting the same fate.
The fifty began reminiscing about its travels all over the country. Life has been good,” the fifty exclaimed. “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas, the finest restaurants in New York, political fund raisers, and I just returned from a cruise on the Caribbean.”
The one-dollar bill said, “You’re fortunate to have been able to visit all those places.”
So where all have you been in your lifetime, my little friend,” said the fifty?” “Well, I’ve been to the Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Episcopal church, the Presbyterian church, the Lutheran church, the Catholic church, the Salvation Army church, the Orthodox church, the Assembly of God church, the Brethren church, the Quaker church, the Pentecostal church, the Charismatic church, and the Church of Christ.
“Excuse me,” said the fifty, “but what’s a Church?”
Psalm 126:2 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with joyful shouting;” Laughter and joy are seen as positives in the Bible. If God had no sense of humor, this would not be the case.
As we are in a relationship with God, we are given the gift of laughter, dancing, and happiness, not apart from God, but with God. God reveals His sense of humor through the animals He created: ostriches, elephant seals, platypuses, kangaroos, etc.
Read another story in 1 Samuel, chapters 4-6, about Israel’s disastrous battle with its long-time enemy, the Philistines. The people of Israel were afraid of losing again, so they borrowed the Ark of the Covenant as a lucky charm to help them win. Although the Philistines were rightly afraid of the God of Israel, they defeated the Israelites in a “very great slaughter” and took the sacred Ark as plunder.
This awful story takes a humorous turn when the Philistines put the Ark in their own temple next to their god, Dagon. Read further and watch these real-life characters scramble to get rid of a holy hot potato. God used some surprising tactics to convince the Philistines to return His Ark to Israel.
Others may find comic relief in the disciples, with whom many readily relate. For example, John’s emphasis on the fact that he beat Peter to the empty tomb (John 20:3-8), Thomas’ resignation to death in following Jesus to Lazarus’ home (John 11:16), or Peter’s gusto in much of what he did (John 13:9-10; John 21:7-11).
Genesis 21:6 “Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
Churchill once wrote, “In my belief, you cannot deal with the most serious things in the world unless you also understand the most amusing.” For him, and men like him, humor was a form of play that grew from his view of their world. He used it a lot as a tool of manly leadership.
During the years when England was systematically nationalizing the nations industries and services, Churchill walked out of a raucous session of Parliament to use the men’s room. This was in the days when the urinal was often a long metal or porcelain trough running the length of the room. While Churchill was relieving himself, one of the leading nationalizers entered the room and began doing his business right next to Churchill. The irritated conservative moved to the far end of the trough. “Felling a bit stand offish today, Winston?” the new arrival asked mockingly.
“No,” growled Churchill. “But whenever you see anything big, you want to nationalize it.”
This story, and the humor with it, is slightly crude. But no necessarily to men, men like this. For a man to score a philosophical point by referring to a body part in such a way that his opponent can’t help be laugh as well – that is the manly moment of victory
Lighthearted sarcasm and a sharp wit can be fun ways to use the intelligence God gave us. Humor can be a wonderful way to cheer up a friend or bring levity to a too-serious situation (when appropriate of course). How many want to retell this story? It wasn’t Churchill who retold this story, it was the man who Churchill had fun with; he loved it.
Man humor has to have sufficient laugh factor to qualify for going viral.
Churchill had a difficult relationship with Lady Nancy Astor. One day she brutally told him “Winston, if I were your wife I’d poison your soup.” He replied without hesitating, “Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.”
One of the reasons that men find this funny is because it draws blood – manly humor doesn’t always have to be the verbal equivalent of punching another man in the jaw. Yet, some Christians may see Churchill’s response as a violation of Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek”.
Sometimes man humor is encouraging, or just entertaining and distracting, but when humor us needed to make an enemy feel pain, Churchill’s example is a way to go.
“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that us struck by the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.” A perfect phrase to describe how men use humor.
Women, and yes some men, will declare that “Winston is crude”, but men know that Churchill was stating a broad truth about an important matter.
Man humor confronts fear and prepares the heart for action. It’s a tool for dealing with danger, quieting panic, and calling comrades to prepare to charge. Call it gallows humor if you wish, I call it foxhole humor.
Either way, its how men use the sometimes crass but always funny comment to force a laugh and encourage their brothers-in-arms,
“Well, here we are, facing these monsters. At least we’re all together. And these idiots aren’t as fierce as we’ve been told. I hear they can’t find their manhood with a flashlight. Lets take these fools!
Manly humor is one of the great joys of being a man. It is also one of the tools set to truly great men.
Nothing of God should be untouched by levity, not even death. “If there is anyone has a good joke about the look of my coffin, I command him to make it.” G.K Chesterton
God knows that our lives can sometimes be frustrating and painful. While He wants us to learn wisdom and self-control, He doesn’t expect us to always have it all together. To the Lord, we are already “holy and without blame before Him in love. . . and accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4, 6). Clearly, God is not ashamed of us, either!
So lighten up! We can laugh at ourselves while we’re learning how God wants us to live. He has promised to help us. He will make us “complete in every good work (and) well-pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:21). We can cheerfully say, as in Psalm 126, “Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. . . . The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad!”
While God appreciates laughter and has gifted us with it, He does not condone laughter at the expense of another or laughter over sinful things. We are told to think on things that are pleasing to the Lord (Philippians 4:8) and to encourage others (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Our speech should be edifying, and therefore our humor should be as well.
Certainly there are issues that are no laughing matters. Be sensitive to not laugh at someone’s pain but do not discount your ability to make others laugh. Your laughter gives others permission to laugh. Laugh at yourself; Laugh at your quirks; Laugh at your accent; Laugh at your life. Laughter is contagious. Laughter with another is love. You love someone when you laugh together. Christ gives laughter as solace for your soul. You miss experiencing an important part of Christ’s character when you choose not to laugh. Let go and laugh.
Always have control over yourself and your words because the tongue is the quickest weapon and sometimes strikes before we even realize what has happened. James 3:8 says that the tongue is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison,” so we must keep it tamed!
Laughing, joking, teasing, and storytelling are some of the best experiences in life. They enrich our days, bind us to others, teach us, and make life sweet and endurable. They are gifts from God and fruits of humility and wonder, since they are only possible when we see the flaws of the world but content ourselves with the knowledge that even flaws have purpose in the plan of God. We can relax then and laugh, crack the joke, or tell the funny story because we know our seriousness changes nothing. God rules, and we are free to delight in this fact and use humor to endure the way things are while we await the perfection that is coming.
Genuine men understand the power and meaning of humor. Some have greater gifts for joking and storytelling than others, but all can at least understand why humor is important, what it does for the soul of the fearful and hurting, and why it is so essential to what a man us made to do. Humor allows us to lighten the heart, encourage our children when they fail, ease stress from our wives, motivate younger men, and unify friends. Humor also allows us to drain the terror from our souls before battle.
Lets close with a final story about Winston Churchill
During the early days of WW2, as Churchill was negotiating US involvement in the war, Churchill would stay at the White House with Roosevelt. One day, Churchill was taking a bath – he bathed every day, sometimes several times a day – just as an aide wheeled Roosevelt into Churchills room. Seeing the prime minister of England wrapped in a towel, an embarrassed Roosevelt ordered his aide to turn him around and wheel him out so that Churchill could have privacy. Astutely, Churchill seized the moment for a larger cause. Holding up a detaining hand, he removed the towel and solemnly proclaimed, “The prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.” Churchill’s point was made, and history was changed as a result.
Laughter can change the mood of a room, but it has also been shown to change history…God bless.