Proverbs 26:18-19 – Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbour and says, "I was only joking!" (NIV)
Years ago when I came upon this verse in the Bible, my reaction was twofold.
My first reaction was amazement that something this down-to-earth and practical was actually in the Bible. The writer of Proverbs had the forthrightness to point out a specific behaviour as damaging. It began, for me, a new way of looking at the Holy Scriptures.
My second reaction was more personal: conviction.
How many times had I done just this: tease someone, and then say just kidding!? Today's verses had me equated with a madman, randomly shooting danger and pain into the people around me, and then trying to put a bandage on the wound with humour. It would be far better not to cause the wound in the first place!
God has so much to say about how we behave in our relationships with family, friends, strangers and even ourselves. We really do need to be more aware of how our words and actions impact others — even if it is something so seemingly innocuous as just kidding.
Prayer: Holy Creator, help us to be more aware of how we can build and strengthen our relationships with others. Help us to avoid causing pain and division. Teach us the true meaning of what it is to love one another in You. In Jesus' name. Amen.