The Significance of Your Sense of Humor
Your sense of humor, or lack thereof, can be an important spiritual indicator in your life. I’m not talking about how funny you are but rather your ability, or freedom, to find humor in life and laugh at what is authentically funny.
Is it easy for you to find humor in life?
Humor is one of the most compelling proofs of the gospel’s work in a man’s heart.
19th-century philosopher, William Hazlitt, noted that, “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps: for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.”
It is in this place, between the way things are and the way they ought to be, that you will find either humor or despair, depending on your worldview. Man’s great expectations and how far short we fall is funny. This is the foundation, or the root, of all humor.
Many men I know, including myself, can struggle desperately with anger and depression because they can’t seem to bridge the gap in their lives between the way things are and the way they think they ought to be. Often this battle is waged in the quiet of our hearts and minds. We either decide for ourselves, or have been taught through painful experiences, what we “ought” to be. For most of us, this definition of success is unrealistic or warped. The result is a nagging sense of failure or incompetence which eventually leads to anger and depression.
Other high achieving men suffer from pride because they believe they have achieved what they “ought,” and consider themselves a success. Often these men are really good at telling others about how great they are, and what others must do to find the success they have. Eventually though these men almost always hit the wall of overwhelming circumstances that reveal, painfully, this success and self-sufficiency was just an mirage.
In my experience it is common for these two types of men to struggle to find humor in life because the gap between what is and what ought to be is not funny. It is actually a painful source of insecurity and fear. Some of these men use humor as a distraction, to cover up the inadequacies they feel deep down.
Men, we were never meant to bear this unbearable burden.
The Bible teaches us that this gap between the way things are and the way they ought to be is sin. In fact, the word, “sin,” is also an archery term which means to “miss the mark.” In other words, our sin causes us to miss the mark of God’s perfect standard of righteousness.
But it’s even worse than just “missing the mark.” Sin is our attempt to overthrow God and place ourselves on His throne. It is a hostile takeover in which we attempt to usurp God’s authority in our lives, and in the lives of others.
Think about the pain and suffering we experience in this world as a result of sin, whether it’s our own or someone else’s. Romans 6:23 says that the “wages” we earn for our sin is eternal death, both physically and spiritually.
So, it makes sense that we feel such shame about the chasm between the way things are and the way they ought to be. It is no laughing matter…unless we have found refuge in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we have been liberated from our sin and are no longer defined by it. Instead, we are defined by the unconditional love of God, who paid the ultimate price to redeem us from the slavery of sin. That whole Romans passage says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
If anyone has a reason to laugh, it is those of us who have found refuge in Christ and been set free from the judgement of our sin! God has done everything to compensate for our inadequacy. He has provided for the great chasm between what is and what ought to be. There is nothing left for us to prove. He simply invites us to rest in His grace and unconditional love.
When our faith is rooted in this reality of Christ, we are less susceptible to being crushed under the weight of our own expectations or failures. We are also more inclined toward humility because we know that without God’s grace we would not be able to accomplish anything. The more secure we become in our relationship with God, the easier it is to laugh in the face of our shortcomings and weaknesses because there is no more shame associated with it.
In my experience when a man becomes convinced of God’s goodness, and learns to trust Him, two amazing things happen…
- He becomes a higher performer in just about every area of his life because the fear of shame is gone and he can truly swing for the fences.
- He finds a new, inspiring sense of humor because he has the freedom to laugh at his himself and his weaknesses.
How about you?
What does your sense of humor, or lack there of, tell you about yourself?
I know that when I fail to trust God I get up-tight and take myself way too seriously. These are the times when I need to renew my dependency on God’s grace, loosen up, and laugh!