“As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?” Proverbs 26:18-19.
Standing at the end of the road is a wild man who has clearly lost his mind. He can’t be reasoned with and has lost all control of his emotions. Pacing back and forth around his bonfire, muttering under his breath, he picks a stick out of the fire and throws it in the woods. Grabbing a few more brands he walks down the road and tosses one into a field setting it ablaze. A little further, he throws another in someone’s yard and catches their leaves on fire. The last one lands on the front porch of the next house he comes to. Not content with arson, he takes up his bow and fires up in the air toward town. He doesn’t care where they land. He aims at houses and turns and fires them into the streets. This madman pulls back the bow and lets arrows sail at a random passersby, unaware of their peril. He is causing trouble, even worse, working death. Truly, a mad man. Solomon paints a picture of a wicked man who is a danger to everyone around him.
Solomon said the man who lies to his neighbor and then tells him, “I was just joking,” is just as wicked. There’s a time for fun and a time to laugh. But there is certainly a limit to what passes for fun into sinfulness. “It was a joke” is not a trump card for hateful actions and sinful words. It’s not an excuse for evil. Some say the most hateful and vile things to people and cover their hate with a disguise of jest. The, “I was just joking,” excuse often comes when the man gets caught. To escape judgment or condemnation, it’s quite the handy excuse to say you were just teasing. Let someone have it and really tell them what you think of them and then when the consequences roll around, they say they were just joking around and didn’t really mean it. “You are so sensitive. Can’t you take a joke?” This is a favorite device of mean husbands to the unfortunate women they married.
Lying to your neighbor is bad. Lying to your neighbor twice is twice as bad – first by deceiving him and the second by covering it up by saying it was a joke. It’s wrong because of the harm it causes. Like the mad man starting fires, treating your someone this way works unintended consequences. First, they have the wound of being deceived but when they hear, “am not I in sport?” they now have the burden of a wounded conscience. It’s their fault they were deceived and hurt because they are too sensitive and dimwitted to take a joke. Christians should have their speech be always with grace (Colossians 4:6) and should follow the spirit of our Redeemer and not the Devil.