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I’m Just Joking!

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        How many times have you said or heard these words, “If I have to tell you one more time”, or “Mom, he’s crossing the line”, and “If I have to stop this car, I’m going to…”? These ageless phrases, familiar to us all, can generate smiles of nostalgia or bring to mind stressful times.

        One phrase that seems to fly out of many mouths, no matter what age we are is: “I’m just joking!” It pops up everywhere; after playing a practical joke, when we harmlessly tease a friend, even when we have purposefully said spiteful comments. These three simple words are often uttered when we have hurt someone’s feelings or taken a joke just a little too far. We use this phrase to lessen our responsibility for what we have said or how we have acted. “I’m just joking” is not an apology.

        Christians have a responsibility to be sure that our speech is not hurtful, even if we are “just joking”.God’s word is full of scripture that talks about the use of the tongue.

He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is likeone who takes a dog by the ears. Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, “I was only joking!”  (Pro 26:18-19 NKJV) 

        As we go through our daily routines, let us all take time to look for opportunities to be an encouragement to others. A simple, sincere compliment to someone today can bring warmth to a hurting heart. Kind words can build strong relationships. A Christ-like tongue can save souls.

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Stop, Look and Listen

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How many times have you heard one of these sayings in your life? ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ or ‘If your friend jumps off of a bridge, are you going to do it too?’ and ‘The early bird gets the worm’. Sayings such as these are said so often that they sometimes seem trivial. Yet there are still valuable lessons to be remembered no matter how many times we roll our eyes when we hear them.

                I recently received an email from a friend, the type that floods your mailbox and tries to get you to forward it to everyone you know. This one in particular vividly portrayed the courageous actions of an eleven year old girl who protected herself and her home from intrusion by two violent, illegal aliens. In the end, the heroic actions and sharp shooting skills of this young woman really tugged at the heart strings. The email then encouraged all people who ‘loved the United States’ to pass the message along. I love my country. I am a patriot. I felt an emotional need to share this story, to press the send to all button. As I started to forward the message I remembered these words.

                “Before you cross the street, be sure to stop, look, and listen.”

                Pausing for a moment, I reread the email. Something just seemed ‘too good to be true’. A quick search on a couple of internet rumor sites proved this story to be completely made up! It was nothing more than a good bit of emotional fiction. I was duped! Just before deleting this colorful story, I sent a note of caution to the friend who had passed it along to me.

                Christians, we have a responsibility to be sure that what we tell others is true, whether it be around the lunch table or through email. You are a light that cannot be hidden, an example to the world of just who Christ truly is.

                Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.  (Psa 19:14 NKJV)