Proverbs 26:18-19

Like a madman who shoots
firebrands and deadly arrows,
so is a person who deceives his neighbor,
and says, “Was I not only joking?”

“Dude, I was just kidding. Lighten up!” I wonder how many times you’ve heard that phrase in your life. I know I’ve heard it plenty of times. Unfortunately, I’ve also said it a time or two. It’s the last resort. It’s what you throw out there when you know you’ve pushed too far and hard and you need a way out. Sure, there are times when you’re really kidding, and you’re just pushing buttons to try to get a response out of someone. And I suppose that’s okay, once in a while. But, I don’t think that’s what the proverb is speaking of.

Rather, what I think is happening is when you are trying to pull one on someone. You’re trying to get away with something that you know you shouldn’t be doing, and when you get caught, you say you were joking. Or, you were trying to make a point with someone, so you back out at the last minute and tell them you were just kidding.

I think the point is this, stop before you get there. Stop before you go too far. Stop before you say something that you need to retract. Because when you do, you’re throwing flaming arrows. You’re playing with fire and hurling things towards someone that could cost them their life or reputation.

Yes, we need to speak truth to the people in our lives, but we shouldn’t try to hide it under the guise of a joke. That’s not going to help the situation. Because you’ll either come off as insensitive or as a jerk. Or, you’ll just come off as someone who’s indecisive and weak and can’t stick by what needs to be said.

The rule is, don’t use the phrase “I was just kidding” unless you were actually kidding. It’s not a good cover.