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Sanctifying the Ordinary: Laughter

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to laugh.” Ecc. 3:1, 4

Laughter is a gift from God. But laughter is a largely neglected and easily misunderstood topic in the church. But for the Christian, laughter is an important topic because when properly understood, laughter—and the humor from which is arises—is not a distraction from godliness or an evidence of immaturity. When viewed biblically and used rightly, laughter and humor are gifts from God. In the kindness of God, there is “a time to laugh.” J.I. Packer captures this gift and the appropriate response to this gift when he writes:

“The moment of mental relaxation and refreshment that each quality giggle brings is a precious gift from God: be grateful!”

So how about you? Do you perceive a “quality giggle” as a gift from a gracious and generous God? After the laughter has died down do you give thanks to God for refreshing you? If not, perhaps you haven’t considered the topic of laughter from Scripture. Perhaps you haven’t marveled at this gift in the midst of the mundane routine of daily life. Or you might be one to think of humor and laughter as foolish and not appropriate for those pursuing holiness. If so, Charles Spurgeon would beg to differ with you:

“I do believe, in my heart, that there may be as much holiness in a laugh as in a cry; and that, sometimes, to laugh is the better of the two.”

The mature Christian knows how to both laugh and cry, and when each is appropriate. Laughter is not only appropriate, it is beneficial for cultivating humility. In his book Surprised by Laughter; The Comic World of C.S. Lewis, author Terry Lindvall, drawing on the writing and example of Lewis, describes this gift with these insightful and provoking words:

“Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego. Only the truly humble belong to this kingdom of divine laughter. Humor and humility should keep good company. Humility is the small door to the divine playground of fun.”

May you experience this “rocking and rolling of the belly” at some point today. May you humbly enter the small door to the divine playground of fun. May your soul be refreshed be a quality giggle. And may you thank God for the gift of laughter.

This message is adapted from a sermon I preached at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville entitled, “Sanctifying the Ordinary: Laughter.”