9)       Make sure you know whom to mock. Psalm 1 does not look favorably at the unrighteous who mock the righteous. Mockery in and of itself is not a sin, but you have to make sure you know whom to mock and why.

10)   Don’t overlook the importance of discernment in deciding when, where, and how to use prophetic humor. Proverbs 26:4–5 advises, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” What appears at first glance to be a contradiction or a goofy Zen saying from a Kung Fu movie or fortune cookie is actually a call to discernment. When a fool is hardhearted, to engage him is to end up descending to his level and becoming a fool who blurts out folly in angry defense. In this case, the art of ignoring him is the best course of action. However, when a fool keeps boasting that he has conquered you and starts heralding his victory to other fools, the best thing to do is take him down a few notches in Jesus’ name.

IN DEFENSE OF HUMOR

To those who have been offended by my comedic banter, I would simply ask why. If it is because I have sinned, then I ask your forgiveness. But if it is because I have hit a nerve of sin or self-righteousness, then I would welcome you to repent and have a good laugh with me.

For my critics, as well as others who make it their job to criticize their preacher, as if we preach from a stage so that you can get better aim, I would ask you if you love your preacher, pray for your preacher, and seek to learn from your preacher. Or are you one of those miserable people who expend their energy criticizing from the pew, like the fans at a sporting event who scream at the athletes from, of course, a safe distance, because being an armchair quarterback is far easier than actually carrying the ball? For you, I close with the words of my dear friend, the now departed and no longer chewed-upon-by-the-critic dogs that encircled him, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. In an obscure little book he wrote defending manly oddball preachers with personality quirks, scathing humor, and unbridled passion over effeminate preachers and preachers as “dry as sawdust,” he said:

Many hearers lose much blessing through criticizing too much, and meditating too little; and many more incur great sin by calumniating those who live for the good of others. True pastors have enough of care and travail without being burdened by undeserved and useless faultfinding. We have something better to do than to be for ever answering every malignant or frivolous slander which is set afloat to injure us . . . There are tender, loving spirits who feel the trial very keenly, and are sadly hindered in brave service by cruel assaults. The rougher and stronger among us laugh at those who ridicule us, but upon others the effect is very sorrowful . . . 

As ministers we are very far from being perfect, but many of us are doing our best, and we are grieved that the minds of our people should be more directed to our personal imperfections than to our divine message . . .

Filled with the same spirit of contrariety, the men of this world still depreciate the ministers whom God sends them and profess that they would gladly listen if different preachers could be found. Nothing can please them, their cavils are dealt out with heedless universality. Cephas is too blunt, Apollos is too flowery, Paul is too argumentative, Timothy is too young, James is too severe, John is too gentle . . .

Well then, let each servant of God tell his message in his own way. To his own Master he shall stand or fall . . . Judge the preacher if you like, but do remember that there is something better to be done than that, namely, to get all the good you can out of him, and pray his Master to put more good into him.23

1Amos 4:1.
2Gen. 9:20–21.
3Gen. 25:27.
4Genesis 29.
5Ex. 32:24.
6Judges 9.
71 Sam. 25:36–37.
8Prov. 11:22.
9Gal. 5:12.
10Eph. 4:32.
112 Pet. 3:16.
12Luke 5:33; 7:31–35.
13Mark 4:21.
14Matt. 16:21–23.
15Matt. 23:33.
16John 8:44.
17Matt. 6:5.
18Matt. 6:16.
19Matt. 23:23.
20Luke 11:37–41.
21Matt. 11:6.
22Rom. 12:15.
232 Cor. 11:4.

Religion Saves
Copyright 2009 by Mark Driscoll
Published by Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers 
1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided for by USA copyright law.