What is the point in being sarcastic? As a person prone to this habit, I often found myself asking this question. More specifically, why did I find sarcasm such an appealing way to respond to people? As I have reflected on this question, I began to recognize that the following three attitudes are the primary reasons why I would choose sarcasm.
Defensiveness: I have used sarcasm before as a defense mechanism. I would choose to be sarcastic with someone because by being sarcastic, I wouldn’t need to be vulnerable. And if I didn’t need to be vulnerable then there would be less likelihood that I would be hurt. But even as I found sarcasm an easy way to put up walls to protect myself, it was those very same walls that made it harder for me to develop healthy and caring relationships. The more sarcastic I was, the more the walls went up. But the more the walls went up, the more I longed for healthy and caring relationships. The end result of this cycle was that people didn’t find in me someone they could trust and be vulnerable with. I had used sarcasm as a way to protect myself, which in turn caused others to be tentative with me because they didn’t want to see their vulnerability exploited for a quick laugh.
Hurtfulness: I have used sarcasm before as a way to blatantly hurt someone because I was too timid to confront that person in a healthy and biblical manner. Confrontation isn’t fun and being vulnerable with others isn’t always easy. Instead of choosing vulnerability and lovingly confronting those who may have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me, I would try to find their weakness or insecurity and exploit that with sarcasm in an effort to get back at them.
Insensitivity: There have been times when my sarcastic responses have been insensitive to those I was talking with. In fact, as I look back on several examples of when I was sarcastic with someone, it always came across as insensitive. I have used sarcasm as a way to put others down while lifting myself up. How much more insensitive can you get than that?
Many times in my life I have looked for reasons to be sarcastic with others. Reasons such as the ones listed above. But as I continue to mature in my Christian walk, I want to speak differently. I want to throw off the excuses of the past, and instead pursue reasons to leave sarcasm behind. When we look in God’s Word, we see that there are more than enough reasons for us to leave sarcasm in our past. Here are some verses that have really encouraged, inspired and challenged me.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29
“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” – Matthew 12:36
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” – James 1:26
I pray that as believers, our words would point people to Christ and His transforming power. It is that power that can transform our hurtful words into words that speak life into them.
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