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.