Boring Mrs. Wilson’s class is worse than going to the dentist. That was the stupidest waste of a movie I ever sat through. My little brother is a dweeb. Jennifer is such a goody-goody. James thinks he’s so funny—give me a break.
How often do you hear these kinds of comments? How often do you think them? How often do you say them?
These thoughts all come from the same attitude, the same spirit. It is negative, cynical, arrogant, condescending, flippant and mean. It is dripping with vanity.
That is so stupid. Everyone is an idiot. Here I sit on my throne of judgment. I am capable of mocking everything I see because I am witty and clever, because I am better. This attitude is easy to have, and it can make people laugh—but it can turn you into something you don’t want to be.
Read Proverbs 30:11-14. Does this attitude not sound very familiar? It seems to specifically describe teenagers: young people who curse their parents; who are morally filthy but consider themselves morally clean; who say evil, violent things; who lack compassion and tenderness for the poor and needy; “whose eyes are ever so haughty [arrogant]”; “whose glances are so disdainful”—full of contempt for those it considers unworthy or inferior (verse 13; New International Version).
Young people are particularly susceptible to this gross thinking. It becomes a habitual way of reacting to everything. Not even the good, the true, the beautiful or the praiseworthy can escape your sarcastic ridicule. And because your haughty one-liner makes people laugh, this mocking attitude might seem harmless.
But where does this spirit come from?
God is the most positive being in the universe! He is full of kindness, mercy and compassion toward us and the whole world. God is love, which means He is very patient and kind, He’s never rude, never selfish, never irritated, never resentful. God is never glad when others go wrong; He’s always gladdened by goodness. He is always slow to expose wrong, always eager to believe the best, and always hopeful! (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Satan is the most bitter and negative being in the universe. He’s cynical; he’s resentful; he’s eager to expose wrong and to point out mistakes. He’s always glad when someone messes up. He always believes the worst. He always hopes for people to fail!
These are two completely opposite ways of thinking. Can you recognize that second spirit in yourself?
Sitting back in judgment is easy and ego-boosting. Someone makes what looks like a mistake, and all you have to do is criticize him. Voilà! You feel like you are better than him. This works, even if he has far more knowledge, experience, skill and character than you, even if he is one of the best in his field, even if he is attempting something far more daring than you have ever attempted. You can make yourself feel better than him. It’s easy, it’s fun—and it’s potent and can even be addictive.
It’s also ugly and dangerous. It is a spirit inspired by Satan. God hates this negative, judgmental, arrogant self-righteousness. Proverbs 6:16-19 list seven things God hates. What leads the list? “A proud look.” Do you ever have “a proud look”? It includes looking at and judging everything around you through proud eyes. A proud look comes from an arrogant attitude.
And what concludes this list of things God hates? A person who stirs up conflict and strife in a family, or in a community. The tendency to make fun of everything and everyone definitely divides people. It may draw you closer to the person who is in on the joke, but it is always at the expense of those you target. This spirit makes you harder to relate to. Most importantly, it inflates your pride, dividing you from the God of love.
This is why David, a man after God’s own heart, said he would cut off people who secretly slander others, who have a haughty look and a proud heart! (Psalm 101:5). God resists the proud (1 Peter 5:5). The Apostle Peter instructs, “[Y]ou younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility …” (same verse; New King James Version).
Clothe yourself in humility. Then you will feel less tempted to find something to ridicule, to half-whisper your snide put-downs. Instead, you will discover respect for others, you will recognize virtue when you see it, you will find things to praise. You will be thinking more like God!
God does have a sense of humor. There are good-natured ways to tease someone that actually draw you closer to that person. The spirit of that type of humor is totally different from the spirit of ridicule, sarcasm and mockery.
When you feel tempted to mock—stop. Remember where those thoughts come from. Instead, focus on what is good, and praise that. Be inspired by God’s attitude in Philippians 4:8: “[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”