A Time To Laugh

Series: Fruit Of The Spirit

Link to sermon video: A Time To Laugh - T Siverd


Sermon By Terry Siverd / May 21, 2023 / Cortland  Church of Christ  - -


Our thanks to Rob Espinosa for preaching last Sunday - - he provided a really well-delivered mother's day sermon.


Jeannie and I recently celebrated our 48th anniversary with a four-day trip to Virginia.  Sometime over the last week

or so Jeannie sent me a text.  I don't know that I did anything in particular to warrant the reception of this memo,

but since it is clothed in undeniable wisdom I thought it might be good to share it with you other husbands.
“Laughing at your mistakes can lengthen your life.  Laughing at your wife's mistakes can shorten your life.”


Actually this adage provides us with a timely starting block for this morning's sermon.

Have you considered lately the importance of laughter?

I've been pondering the place of humor in the broad galaxy of Christian attributes.


There is growing research to substantiate the notion that good laughter is highly valuable.

A variety of inter-disciplinary studies are continuing to reveal what the sacred text has long declared:

A JOYFUL HEART IS GOOD MEDICINE - - as Solomon affirmed so many years ago (Prov.17:22).


When we speak of Christian virtues we often think of things like integrity, kindness, fairness, forgiveness, humility, gratitude and courage (to name a few).  Laughter is not only valuable but I contend that it is also virtuous. 

A healthy sense of HUMOR is an important by-product of a JOY-filled life and both are clearly fruits of the Spirit.


Good wholesome laughter brings all manner of benefits.

Physically laughter exercises your diaphragm enabling an increase in oxygenated air which stimulates your lungs

thereby relieving muscle tension which improves vascular function, increasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Laughter can also assist with boosting pain tolerance as well as enhancing sleep which nourishes our immune system.

Psychologically there's clinical evidence that laughter reduces stress hormones (Cortisol in particular).

Humor is also recognized for its role in helping to improve memory retention.

One doctor was famous for telling his patients, “If you can't take a joke, you'll have to take a medicine.”

The Social Advantages of laughter are also noteworthy.  Relationships flourish when people are connected via humor.

Online memes are popular and many of them promote camaraderie through healthy expressions of humor.

President Abraham Lincoln was noted for his ability to defuse tension by the injection of humorous anecdotes.

Spiritually, as Therapist Bianca Rodriguez writes: “There is something sacred about humor.  If you can

laugh at yourself, then you can forgive yourself.  And if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.”

The latter (forgiving others) is vital in our cultivation of the mind of Christ.


King Solomon keenly observed (Eccl.3:4) - - there is a time to weep, and a time to LAUGH.


Over the centuries there has been a tendency to downplay the laughter of Jesus.

Traditionally, paintings of Jesus are portrayed with melancholy, depicting Jesus are a very somber Savior.

Yes, Jesus became our Sin-bearer (1Pet.2:24).  And, yes, Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man

of sorrows and a suffering servant (Isa.53).  Jesus was rejected in His own hometown (Mk.6:1-6).  And, as noted

in Jn.11:35, Jesus wept, at His friend's passing.  And of course, there is the cross - - the agony of agonies.


But to conclude from these observations (which are true) that Jesus never had a lighthearted moment

and/or that He never had an occasion to laugh is to fail to reflect on a host of other Scriptures.


The four gospels tell us a great deal about the ministry of Jesus which covered a span of 3½ years.

Yet scholars have calculated that, all total, the four gospels record events from less than forty different days.

It's true, you can't find a single verse in the New Testament that definitively declares, Jesus LAUGHED.


Leslie Flynn (Dare To Care Like Jesus, p.83) notes - - “Because the Gospels fail to mention the smiles and laughs of

Jesus does not mean that He did neither, for they give incomplete snatches of His life.  Only 35 days of His entire ministry

are mentioned, and then just fragments.  If the full record existed, doubtless we would read of His smiles and laughs.“


In The Conclusive Laughter Of God, John Duddington writes:  “...Christ is never known to have laughed

aloud, but a great deal that He did and said is imbued with transposed laughter as He deals in His

unique saving way with the inadequacies of His friends and the enmity of His adversaries.”


There are so many instances of this that I hardly know where to begin.


Jesus was a splendid instructor (a Master teacher) and His lessons are often augmented and accented with humor.

One cannot read Mk.10:13-16 and not recognize a Jesus adorned with laughter and smiles.

Here a few choice examples.


In His sermon on the mount (Mt.7:4), while speaking about the pitfalls of judging others, He says:

How can you say to your brother, 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye.


In addressing the sin of greed (affluenza), Jesus illustrates with a hilarious pictogram (Mk.10:25) - -

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.


And speaking of word pictures, Jesus sometimes gave His followers nicknames (which were laced with humor).

Cephas or Simon, who is often the epitome of fluctuation, is re-named Petros/Peter (Rock or Stone/Mt.16:17-18).

James and John, who appear to be rather short-tempered, are dubbed by Jesus as Boanerges (sons of thunder/Mk.3:17).


Jesus alludes to false teachers with a comical epigram, referring the them as wolves in sheep's clothing (Mt.7:15).

He depicts the self-righteous Jewish leaders as giving alms accompanied by the sounding of a trumpet (Mt.6:1-2).


One of the funniest images in the entire New Testament is found in Mt.23:24, where Jesus depicts

the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees as - -  blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

In the Greek this is funnier still and comes by way of a pun:  You filter out a GALMA, but you gulp down a GAMLA.


Sometimes humor can be tricky.  Sarcasm may have its place, but it needs to be used carefully and sparingly.

Sarcasm can be very derisive and hurtful and Paul warns that silly talk and coarse jesting is not appropriate (Eph.5:4).


Let me summarize briefly.

We are made in the image of God.  In the Old Testament story of Abraham & Sarah, both Abram & Sarai laughed

when God revealed to them that they would have a son in their old age (Gen.17:17 & 18:12).  Their laughter

amounted to a scoff.  In due time this son was born to them and he was named Isaac (laughter/Gen.21:5-6).

This was classic case of God getting the last laugh.  As to God laughing, see Ps.2:4; Ps.37:13 & Ps.59:8 and Prov.1:26


I suppose some might think it would be sacrilegious for an artistic rendition of Jesus to be emblazoned with a grin.

Yet throughout the pages of the gospels we can see a Jesus with a smile and laughing often.

The Scriptures even underscore than it was for the JOY set before that He endured the cross (Heb.12:2).


We are not advocating that we Christians walk around as goofballs, but we are arguing strongly that

these virtues of smiles and laughter ought to play a part in distinguishing us as members of the body of Christ.


We may not think of the subject of laughter as a heavyweight virtue but it carries considerable weight nonetheless.

For those of us who aim to be disciples of Christ, laughter is a natural outgrowth of the joy of the Lord.

On the contrary, somberness and disconsolate (downcast) are nowhere enunciated as fruits of the Spirit.


Paul's statement in Rom.14:17 helps to summarize this morning's word of exhortation - - 

...the kingdom of heaven is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.

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