Stop Kidding, Start Uplifting

Proverbs 26:18
“People who shrug off deliberate deceptions, saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,” are worse than careless campers who walk away from smoldering campfires.” (MSG)

Proverbs 26:19
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (NIV)

Do you find yourself saying the words “I’m just kidding” or “I’m just joking”? I know I am guilty. I like to joke and those three words are easy to throw around in times of humor.

What’s amusing to me about “I’m just kiddings,” though, is that they usually follow a hurtful or harsh attempt at humor. Yet, whatever has been said is supposed to be automatically cancelled out and forgotten once the words “I’m just kidding” are added. As if “I’m just kidding” initiates the “dry erase board” effect.

Think about a time where you have been on the other end of the “I’m just kidding”. Maybe someone was putting you down in an attempt to impress others and, once they were finished, they followed it up with the three magic words: “I’m just kidding”. Did that really lessen the sting of being made fun of? Absolutely not.

In James 3, the tongue is described as a fire. Verses 3:5-6 say this:

“A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything–or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” (MSG)

What comes before those three words is the spark that can set off a forest fire. It’s important that we recognize that just like a forest fire isn’t easily put out, the fires our tongues can potentially set off can’t simply be put out by a quick, “I’m just kidding”.

We need to be very cautious with the words that we say. I’d like to encourage each of us to keep from using humor as an excuse for saying things we shouldn’t. Instead of saying “I’m just kidding”, we need to focus on changing the words that come before so they are positive, uplifting and encouraging.

Do you find yourself saying “I’m just kidding” to co-workers and colleagues? Your employees? Friends? Family?


8 thoughts on “Stop Kidding, Start Uplifting

  1. The brother of this is “No offense, but…” The other person is TOTALLY about to be offended.

    I’m definitely guilty with the “I’m just kidding,” statement. One of my spiritual gifts is teasing people. Sarcasm and ribbing, though, isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, right? Ideally, you can tease someone you’re close with, someone that trusts you, and you shouldn’t have to even say “I’m just kidding,” afterwards. For example, as a singer…if I completely blow one Sunday morning at church (forget the words, lose my voice, trip and fall, etc.) and one of my friends said to me afterwards “Wow, you look really polished up there,” I would share a laugh with them, shrug it off, no big deal. I can take their joke at my expense because they’ve spent time POSITIVELY building into my life and our relationship, so I know their ribbing of me is not meant to be malicious in any way.

    It’s a fine line that exists between being funny and being mean…and it would probably be wise to be safe, rather than sorry.

    Thanks for another good post, Brandon.

  2. We must always be mindful of our words. We can either build up or tear down. Thanks for the post.

  3. In education I see situations ” Just kidding “ play out all the time. Feelings are hurt, next step is physicality. The premise for Eddie Murphy”s latest movie is what if you only had 1000 words to say, what would they be?
    I had an hour long discussion about what words you
    Should use. I was genuinely surprised! Students also once noted, use uplifting words to get more words, which I found pretty interesting and encouraging.
    Ephesians helps us with this premise.
    29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
    Whether it’s in education or business, building others up is important and critical to the well-being of the individual and your business.

    Brad makes a great point too!! the key point is TIME SPENT putting into the lives of other\friends.

  4. Even when you are mindful of your words the other person may not have the capabilities of receiving them. Thus what cannot be said in front of God should not be said, though of or considered. Hard to do. Helps when you understand the devastation of non-visible disabilities. Especially when your children are destroyed emotionally, physically, and spiritually trying to ‘fit’ into a world not of their making.

    • I agree. It’s just much better not to say anything that isn’t uplifting. You never know how the other person is going to accept it. Appreciate you sharing, Susan!

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