Back to Joy

December 3, 2021


3 radical, biblical ideas for the cynic

When I ask an audience how many have been doing too much laughing lately, the only ones who raise their hands are kids. If you haven’t had a good chuckle lately, I hope you enjoy a few jokes my grandkids love.

• What do you call a song sung in a car? A cartoon.
• What’s green and loud? A froghorn.
• What do you get when you cross a stream and a brook? Wet feet.
• What do you call a pig who does karate? A pork chop.
• What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear.

Some grownups don’t want you laughing. One wrote to say, “I don’t think Jesus laughed. Why should we?” Are you serious? The Creator of the chimpanzee and the anteater has no sense of humor? I think this gentleman should try camping with twelve other men, as did Jesus.
We dare not give in to prune-faced cynicism and negativity. The world needs to see our joy. George Burns said, “Too bad the only people who know how to run this country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair.”

I’m guilty. I can critique people’s hairstyles, how high they wear their pants, how badly they forecast the weather, run the government, or play music at church. If folks weren’t allowed to sit around complaining, most coffee shops would be out of business by Wednesday.

If negativity is your spiritual gift, expect joy to evaporate. Cynicism is no friend of joy. A critical spirit makes each picture frame seem crooked, each tuna casserole a little over-cooked.

If you know someone like this, remind him or her of three radical biblical ideas:

1. Think on things that are pure and lovely and of good report (Philippians 4:8,9). It’s startling what one positive person can do to a conversation. You be that one.

2. When noticing the faults of others, reflect on God’s grace to you. Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” God has forgiven us. Let’s pass it along. (Ephesians 4:32.)

3. Set your default to gratitude. “In everything give thanks.” Everything? That’s what 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us. Carry out this simple act and it’s impossible to excel at cynicism.

You may even find yourself laughing. Even at jokes like this: What do you get from a pampered cow? Spoiled milk.

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