Friday, October 22, 2010

The Best Place for Sarcasm

(The top half of a wooden crate shelf in my foyer.)

According to the Noah Webster dictionary:

Sarcasm: A keen reproachful expression; a satirical remark or expression, uttered with some degree of scorn or contempt; a taunt; a gibe.

Sarcasm. It has become the cornerstone of our society. It's what sitcoms are made of, it's how we respond to the ridiculous, the obvious, our husbands, our children, our neighbors, our friends. It permeates nearly every conversation at some point. It's sad.

If you are sarcasm free, I salute you. Honestly. I am not being sarcastic. I still find myself, at times, giving a "satirical remark" when a kind response, or a sweet response could serve better.

The thing is, as we see in the definition above, that a sarcastic remark is usually uttered with scorn, contempt, haughtiness even. We tend to use sarcasm to put someone in their place, to show how stupid their comment or question was, to belittle, to quiet them. I wonder what would happen if we instead chose to be sincere, to be loving, to be gracious in our speech. Would we see a change in our homes?

Ephesians 4: 29 says this (NIV) "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."

How, I wonder, does sarcasm play into this admonition? If we look at the second phrase of the verse, we see that our words should be helpful for building others up. Does your sarcastic, caustic response to your husband build him up? How about to your children?

The third phrase says, "that it may benefit those who listen." When your child asks you the same question for the third or fourth time, do you answer in a way that benefits her? Do you realize the value of her uncluttered heart and sweetly, lovingly answer her, again? Or do you fill her mind and heart with fear and confusion, causing her to think she is upsetting you, that she doesn't deserve your respect, that she is less of a person or lesser in importance than you are?

I wonder if part of the reason that we seem unable to hold the hearts of our children is because sarcasm is so common in our interaction with them? I wonder if the reason we have so many dysfunctional families is because we don't speak to people with kindness? I wonder if the reason we have so many unfaithful husbands is because we don't speak to them with respect?

The first phrase of that verse says that we should not let ANY unwholesome words come out of our mouths. If we truly understand what sarcasm is, then I assume we are able to properly identify it as unwholesome. It builds up no one. It benefits no one. It tears down. It destroys. It belittles.

(The bottom half of the shelf you saw above.)
So, where is the best place for sarcasm? There is no best place. It is best avoided, taken out of our lives, thrown away, gotten rid of. Permanently.
Ladies, would you pray with me, that God would work in our hearts to help us to remove this unwholesome speech from our hearts and minds. For some of us, it is so deeply ingrained, that it will take nothing less than the power of God to remove it. But if we are going to take a stand in this society, to be a light on a hill, to be salt in this world, we need to start with how we speak to each other. We need to be willing to let our conversations always be filled with grace. And we need to start here. Today. In our own homes.

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