Journey Out of Sarcasm (Part 2)

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
(Ephesians 4.29)

At least for me, the ladder out of the slough of sarcasm is grounded in Ephesians 4.29. This verse doesn’t have to do only with sarcasm, but it includes it if sarcasm is “unwholesome” speech. The verse has three rungs, on each of which I hope to meditate in the coming months. There is (1) prohibition; (2) command; and (3) reason for obedience. By the Spirit’s help I will not slip and bang my shin on the way back down.

First things first: context. I’m tempted to relegate sarcasm to some minor category of sin listed under personality quirks or genetic inevitability. Paul knew better. By Jesus, God transforms the new self in righteousness, holiness and truth (v24) from the old self of unrighteousness, corruption and deceit (vv17-19, 22).

That’s a wealth of big, important words, but what does that look like? This new creation is so evident that liars speak truth (v25), rageaholics reconcile (v26), and thieves become generous (v28). And so powerful is God’s re-creative work that those who use language to abuse, destroy and manipulate now use language to edify in grace (v29). In summary, those who were content to grieve the Holy Spirit now stop doing so (v30). The old self’s bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander (v31) have been evicted by Jesus so that kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness rule the heart and mouth (v32).

So for me, ending my addiction to sarcasm is as important as replacing ignorance with knowledge, lies with truth, murder with reconciliation, and theft with generosity. This process is part of God’s gracious means to assure me that I’m really his. I don’t think this is overstated, but my old self stands ready to be convinced otherwise.

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