No Foolin'

Every year a late night talk show host encourages parents to prank their kids with a faux profession that they devoured all their little pumpkins’ Halloween candy.[1]  The show features videos sent in of children throwing monstrous fits of rage and heartache until the parents reveal they are “just joking!”  Pathetic, baffled little faces look back at their caretakers sometimes possessed with ghoulish expressions of hatred for the hoax. 

In amazement, I think to myself, “And you want your children to trust you and feel safe with you?”  We should ask ourselves that same question in how we treat everyone especially if tempted to make them play the fool.

This Wednesday is April 1st, a day we call, “April Fools”.  A day somehow being foolish and making fools of others is sanctioned and celebrated.  But is mocking others truly all harmless fun?

Proverbs 26:18-19 warns us that a man who makes fools of others is foolishly dangerous and shows himself to be a fool:  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?

See how the man sporting is described in verse 18: in the Hebrew, “mad” could be translated, “startled”.  The Geneva Bible has it as, “He that fainteth himself mad”.  Such a prankster doesn’t make himself look good; rather he that acts foolish looks foolish.  Also, see the potential danger he shoots toward his victims—firebrands, arrows, and even death. 

“Ah, but I was ‘just kidding’—its ‘all in good fun’.”  Isn’t that how perpetrators excuse making sport at the expense of others.  Well, verse 19 says saying essentially the same, “Am I not in sport?”, is wrong.  This Scripture actually casts down typical expressions to exempt oneself such as “Just joking!” or “Have a sense of humor!”  Sometimes we seek to project our responsibility onto the person pranked with, “Get a thicker skin.”  But should we Christians be the cause of callouses around a person’s heart?  Let our hearts be cut by such an idea and the fact that the Greek roots of our word sarcasm combine as “to cut the flesh”.  Proverbs 12:18 reminds us that There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.  Let us not risk hurting while we could bring healing.

Ephesians 4:29 commands, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  Christians of all people should not play tricks that cut up or down other people.  Ephesians 5:2-4 tells us to ... walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us ... let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints ... filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting [coarse joking, buffoonery], which are not convenient ...  Notice, we need to walk as Christ in love.  Love is not lying and lying isn’t loving.  Pranking isn’t playful; it is deceitful (verse 19; see also the Ninth Commandment).  We should not foolishly make fools of others—can you see Jesus, Who is wisdom, doing this?  Further, Proverbs 10:23 warns that, It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

When we prank others, we may think we look smart and witty while getting attention for ourselves as the “jokester”.  But we actually look like the court jester and do not reflect the King of Kings.  

When you are tempted to trick or tease others, consider what you risk: burning them down and leaving them smoking; piercing their hearts and leaving them bleeding; bringing death to their spirits where you should choose to breathe life. 

Instead of pinning “kick me” signs on people’s backs, turn them around and give them hugs and notes of appreciation and affirmation.  Think of how you will make them look and feel as well as how you will feel and look.

Imagine heaven.  No one will foolishly be making fools of others in the personal presence of Christ.  There will be total safety, truth, and wisdom.  Let us build up that Kingdom of Heaven more and more now here on earth as the Church.  Let us be wise.  No Foolin’[2].

 

Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Evangelical Church of America in San Diego, CA, since 2010.  He and his wife, Fernanda, have five covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, and Gabriel).  He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.



[1] The author in no way is supporting the idea of Christians being involved with Halloween; his position is most emphatically the opposite.

[2] For an original sermon on this Scripture and topic, visit https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=33119194527279