“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)
“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.