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Live a Life of Gratitude

Words of Faith Final

Live a Life of Gratitude

Words of Faith 3-25-2021

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Ephesians 5

[4] Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.


      A number of years ago I was part of a ministers' group that met for retreats and reflection.  After a few of these retreats, we began to notice that the conversation among the ministers, all fine men, began to be more and more "off-color."  First there were a few jokes shared that raised eyebrows.  Then there were a couple of jokes that resembled a locker room more than a seminary prayer group. I could tell that others were uncomfortable as I was.  Of course, no one wanted to appear prudish, but eventually it had to be brought up and the group discussed some boundaries. 

      It seems that somewhere along the way, there is a line that is crossed where talk becomes foolish and joking becomes coarse.  It is not always clear where that line is.  The intention can be good but somewhere things slip and the cleanness of conversation drifts.  Then suddenly one realizes that the talk has become obscene, but it is not always clear where that turning point was.

      After some agreement, the new joke among the ministers' group became a fun warning about drifting into "horse jesting"-- because it rhymed with "coarse jesting."  It was a way of saying to one another-- "Hey, we are getting close to the line so let's straighten it up."

      The truth is that the mouth reveals the condition of the heart.  When we cross those lines in groups or conversation, we reveal an area of potential decay.  Just as a dentist looks for shadows on the x-ray of a tooth to reveal vulnerability to decay, so we must listen to the narrative of our lives to hear if there is an area that could be targeted for attack.

      The Spirit warns us here that there is language that is revealing.  When we find ourselves amid filthiness, empty humor or vulgar witticism we need to make a change.  We know filthy language when we hear it.  We know a filthy joke when we hear it. It leaves you feeling dirty.  We know when the line is crossed, but sometimes it is the warning that we miss. 

       Empty humor is more than just the stuff of the Three Stooges.  The Bible doesn't warn us away from silly humor.  The problem is humor that is biting or destructive or at the expense of others. It is humor that you would not want directed at you. These things do not reveal a heart that is after God. These things do not imitate the character of God.

       Does this mean that a Christian is to be a humorless sourpuss? Not at all!  God has a great sense of humor. Just look around the Bible.  For that matter, just look around the church. 

     The issue here is the heart condition of a believer.  We are to have a heart condition dominated by gratitude.  We are to express words of thanksgiving and grace.  We are to express gratitude to God for all that is good and wonderful.  We are to overflow with blessings that are clean, pure and delightful.

      So, when those times arise with groups of friends that a line is blurred or crossed in humor or conversation, we need to have an alternative response that is not self-righteous and does not sting.  Sometimes a non-response and change of subject will do.  At other times, a gentle change of venue will make the difference. 

       The reality is that when faced with filthiness, empty humor, or vulgar witticism, our primary response is to live a life of gratitude... for the wondrous things of God.  We walk so very close to God when we exhibit an attitude of gratitude.  When people ask: "How are you?"  We can answer "I am thankful" or "I am blessed."  Our words and language reflect gratitude and grace.

        So how is your reservoir of gratitude?  How is your supply of humor?  What is your conversation?  How are the jokes and the conversations you entertain?  What do they reveal about you?


     Father God, show me how to live a life of love.  Build-in me a life of purity. Help my conversation and humor to always reflect Your purity.  Help me to express the attitude of gratitude in all I think, do or say.  In Jesus' Name.