Proverbs 26:18,19 - Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I am only joking!"
While studying for my bible Class, I was struck with this verse and what it means. The word "deceives", can also mean, "to cast or throw." I take that to mean things like sarcasm.
Proverbs 15:4 tells us that "A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit".
Sarcasm has been a major part of my method of communication, especially among my closest brothers, but I have seen how it actually hinders intimacy in fellowship. Sarcasm can actually be a protection device to keep people at a healthy distance so that we are not vulnerable.
In our church, we are trying to lead our people into a healthier and more intimate and real church fellowship. One of the things that has hindered this is sarcasm being used as a form of communication.
Friends, it is deadly. Sarcasm masquerades as friendship, but only plants seeds of resentment and bitterness that Satan can use to ultimately cause a divide in the fellowship when trials come. We simply cannot afford this type of worldly communication. We are to be a sober-minded people.
Now, someone will always stand up and defend the use of sarcasm because humor has a place in the kingdom of God. Let me remind you, that if the humor is about a circumstance, and is not directed toward another, it can be a healthy form of communication. But if it is at the expense of a brother, it can only poison further effective and serious communion between us.
I have witnessed the shallowness and the distance in relationship caused by a lack of trust and the resistance to opening our lives up to one another. One reason is that we feel that our trust may be betrayed, and brought to bear as an arrow or a firebrand.
The spirit of competition that results as we engage habitually in sarcasm will build a barrier in our fellowship that will eventually close off all serious and pious communion amongst the saints that is so desperately needed in the midst of our battles for righteousness and our faith amidst trial.
Paul exhorts us in Colossians 4:6 to "let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt". Iron sharpens iron in serious conversation and debate, but sarcasm only cuts. And when one is cut enough, and wounded, he will either strike back, or desert the battle. Either way, you lose.
Leaders, stop it now. Be an example of holiness and sober-mindedness. Don't choose to be a "good ol boy" and fall in with the vain conversation that takes place in so many fellowships. If you take this stand, it will pay rich dividends in your church.
If you do not, you may continue to experience mere "surface" relationship where there is an apparent lack of trust and a suspicion which hinders true intimacy.