“No one was ever corrected by sarcasm — crushed perhaps, if the sarcasm was clever enough, but drawn nearer to God, never.”
— Frederick William Faber (1814–1863)
SENSE OF HUMOUR, seemingly always a gift, especially in this age of light-speed communication, so often reveals the heart beneath the jibe, no matter how gift-worthy the humour is to the various hearers.
The dictionary says that sarcasm is a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt. It has the tending of passive aggressiveness about it, like, with what is said, because it’s couched in humour, it is okay to be said. But sarcasm is aggressiveness and never foreseeably born of love.
Of all the “one another” phrases in the New Testament, there is a common theme. It relates to love, to building up, to nurturing other souls. When we don’t love, or where we tear people down (even silently), or we fail to nurture them; we are not simply missing the mark, we are sinning against the Lord.
We should know it’s never acceptable to hide behind the truth, as if to say, “It doesn’t matter how it’s said; it’s what’s said that’s important.” No, the Lord looks to the heart – the heart of someone speaking the truth, but not in love, is a heart far from God in that moment and their opportunity is to repent immediately. Such a person fails to understand that the person they are harsh with is made in the image of God. Would they openly sin against the Lord, suchlike?
Truth Perhaps, But No Love
Sarcasm may be used to present the truth in a humorous way, and, by that, to make it ‘easier’ to handle – but for who; certainly not for the recipient.
Somehow the people who are around this humour – both those laughing (because they lack the courage not to) and those not laughing – know the sarcasm is inappropriate. It can never be God-honouring if it hurts someone, or doesn’t build them up.
True Christians are motivated from hearts within them to love first and foremost – to fit the truth within the frame of love. To speak the truth in love is about speaking truth, but only when it can be spoken of in a loving way.
Speaking the truth in love is both a privilege and a necessity in Christian life, but sarcasm can never be thought of as a way of speaking truth. Sarcasm may sound witty but it does nothing to build the other person up. Speaking the truth to others has no value unless that truth is spoken in love.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.