Why Sarcasm Is Relational Suicide!
“I don’t know what her problem is? I was just being sarcastic.”
“He shouldn’t take things so personally.”
“It was just a joke.”
“I’m just saying…”
Sometimes we hurt people with our words and then try to disguise it with humor. We call it sarcasm, and pretend it’s innocent and harmless. Sarcasm hurts. And it’s intentional. Merriam-Webster defines sarcasm this way, “a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.” Did you see that? It’s ‘designed to cut or give pain.’ I think of sarcasm this way, ‘an attempt to use humor to disguise an intentional personal attack.’
While sarcasm is the ‘go-to’ technique for comedians it has no place in the life of a pastor, christian, or anyone attempting leadership, business, or simply trying to live a spiritually healthy life. Maybe that’s why the letter of James in the Bible says…
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT-SE)
“And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:6 NLT-SE)
While the Scriptures are clear that our ‘tongues,’ our language, the way we speak, is indicative of who we are, sometimes we aren’t so clear. We try to rationalize our way out of feeling guilty about our language and how we speak to one another. ‘After all,’ we think, ‘everyone speaks this way.’ Well that’s not really true. Think about those folks you know who are your spiritual mentors…do they use sarcasm? What about those people who are truly impacting society in positive ways…do they use sarcasm? No, they don’t. In fact, they tend to speak in exactly the opposite way; they speak in way that builds others up. They seem to have discovered the truth in a verse from the letter to the Ephesians in the Bible…
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT-SE)
Here are four things I think sarcasm does to the one who uses it:
1. Sarcasm destroys your credibility. The more sarcastic you become the less people will take you seriously, the less influence you will have, sarcasm destroys credibility.
2. Sarcasm tears others down and destroys relationships. When you consistently speak in a way that tears people down, the less they will want to be around you and you will have deeply harmed the relationship; all while trying to be ‘funny.’
3. Sarcasm is lazy. I think sarcasm often comes from a place of frustration and pain and it’s easier to speak the harsh and pseudo-funny word than do the hard work of reconciliation in the relationship.
4. Sarcasm reveals your true spiritual condition. To be blunt…what we speak reveals the condition of our spiritual life. If you really want to know where you are in your relationship with Christ, check your words.
So, will you eliminate sarcasm from your language?
Will you speak in ways that build up instead of tear down?
Will you seek Christ in such a way that even your language becomes a witness?
Give it a shot…if you need some help, let me know!
Grace and Peace, Rich