wit, humor and sarcasm: a resolution for my generation (and me)

The saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is not my generation’s motto.  I think ours is more along the lines of, “If it’s not witty, funny or bitingly sarcastic, keep it to yourself.”

I’m not sure why we’re like this.  Perhaps it is because millennials (I think that’s my generation… I’m 27, so if anyone knows for sure, please inform me) have basically had coddled life-experiences.  I’m speaking generally here, not wanting to minimize anyone’s significant painful experiences.  But, on the whole, we are unfamiliar with the serious traumas that other generations have faced.

Whatever the reason, here is what I find to be true about my generation (and myself).  We want to be clever.  And if we can’t be clever, we’ll settle for some sarcasm and a laugh.  We avoid saying simple truths outright, because they don’t sound clever or original enough.

This is trouble where the Gospel is concerned.  For one, the Gospel is a simple truth: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  We don’t sound smart when we say this; we sound converted.  Two, we may be more concerned about getting a laugh from someone (the ultimate sign of respect for us, albeit perverted), than we are with sharing the Gospel with them.  And if they are a fellow Christian, this is all the more true.  Why bother talking about Christ?  We are all Christians anyway, let’s just have a laugh.

But here’s some good news for the humor-hungry generation. Life is full of unmanufactured humor. We cannot avoid it. Kids overflow with it. No matter what our station in life, humor will be there. We need not promote its cause to an idolotrous place.  There is a time for everything under the sun: a time to laugh and a time to cry.  We don’t need to be funny all the time. Humor comes even when we aren’t creating it.

So let’s let the simple admonition of the Bible be our resolution concerning our speech.  It’s not clever… but it is original.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

James 3:9 With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be so.

Col 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

1 Tim 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

The list could go on and on.  I need much work in this area.  I’m praying for a year of gracious speech in 2009.  Speech that isn’t afraid to be serious-minded and Gospel-centered.  And I’m sure I’ll have a few laughs along the way.

8 thoughts on “wit, humor and sarcasm: a resolution for my generation (and me)

  1. Well, this post must have been so serious that everyone was afraid to comment, for fear of saying something funny. Either that, or it was so spot on that no comments are necessary.

    Whichever the case, it disturbs me to have a post with no comments, so I will be the lone voice of response… to myself.

    Perhaps this post should have been about the approval/feedback-starved generation. I fall into that one too.

  2. For the approval/feedback-starved… and my debut/swan-song as a blog commenter. I have fear and regret already!

    We all know a humorous person when we hear one. They make us laugh. Humour, fortunately is held by no one generation! And one can be in good humour or bad humour. Hmmm.

    Wit. Shakespeare penned “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit”. A fool is a fool regardless his wit. Wits I know and love have a lightning quip and/or response. It may or may not be elegant, but it does have intellect, meaning there is a lag time before I fully understand! It makes me think and smile. I admire good wit.

    As a teen, I can remember my mom telling me to ‘cut the sarcasm’ which I’d perfected as a preferred weapon against my older, stronger siblings. That from the baby boomer era. My regret (translates today as ‘my bad)’. It was a terribly hard habit to break.

    I appreciate good humor and seem to need it. While no one would describe me as jolly, I admire those who are and enjoy their company. I appreciate the wit of certain people like your oldest brother and especially our pastor who uses his wit to wake us and shake us to delight in what God would have us see and be in our Christian walk.

    While the description of your generation is true, I might also say it has been true of most generations that had twenty-somethings milling around street corners, colleges and the workplace. Perhaps it is a developmental phase to cover up angst or lack of assurance with the bravado of humor, wit and cutting sarcasm. As you’ve pointed out it does stand in contrast to the assurance and peace we have in Christ.

    The scriptures you shared are, of course, on point. Well written. If it is true we speak 20,000 to 50,000 words a day (never mind how many we write), that gives us ample opportunity to glorify God. As for ‘your generation and you,’ the final chapter hasn’t been written. God is faithful and that makes me hopeful! God bless.

  3. Ab – I simply love and appreciate your thoughts and insight. You are a gifted writer. And I love the truths that you speak of. Thank you.

  4. Let me reach towards my back and pull the knife out that your words just stabbed me with.

    I am going to end with that, because I can not seem to manufacture a joke right now.


  5. I knew I’d never be in danger of you taking me too seriously, Joe. I don’t think I could bear it if you ceased to poke fun at me. 🙂

  6. I ended up over here through a link on another blog…You know the trail you make. I came over to look at your post on the legacy bracelet. But, I kept reading.

    This is such a good post! I cannot say enough how true the words you speak are.

    God has a passion for Himself and our speech is an indicator of just how deep our passion for Him is. Sadly, like many others, mine is lacking as well.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll be back now. 🙂

  7. “We want to be clever. And if we can’t be clever, we’ll settle for some sarcasm and a laugh. We avoid saying simple truths outright, because they don’t sound clever or original enough”
    This is so true.
    Simple truths are so plain now-a-days , that people need fancy stuff like sarcasm, humor (and actually so so so much more other stuff/qualities) that can make you look fancy and above average.
    This disturbs me so very much too.

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