From childhood we have been brought up with the idea that murder and adultery are big sins. We also have a wrong impression that if we escape from committing these two sins we are in God’s good books.
Is it true? Sad to say, the answer is No. The Bible points out many sins which we ignore. For example, when Jesus said, “Do not worry (see Matthew 7:25–34),” it was not a psychologist’s advice for happy living. Instead it is a command from God Almighty. When we ignore that and worry, it is sin.
Again, pride and self-righteousness are two sins God hates to see in us. Pride brought down Satan from a position near God in heaven (see Ezekiel 28:17 and Isaiah 14:13, 14). Self-righteousness prevents us from seeing our sinfulness as God sees it (see Luke 18:9–14). We also feel that we do not need the cross like other “bad sinners” need it.
Now let me come to a sin that is so common in our so called spiritual circles. We hear and participate in this sin immediately after church services even without realizing that we have just come out from the presence of God.
What is this sin I am trying to refer to. The Bible calls it the sin of mocking or scoffing. The easiest reference you can find is Psalm 1 verse one which reads, “Blessed is the man who does not . . . sit in the seat of mockers.” [Some translations use “scoffers.”]
Now what is mocking or scoffing. Mocking involves laughing at someone in an unkind, cruel way showing contempt. It can involve imitative speech or action which is amusing but unkind. You scoff others when you laugh and talk about a person in a way that shows you think they are stupid or silly.
We often imitate people’s speech, mannerisms, and action and make fun. Not one of us ever show the guts to tell our friends to stop when they go on and on mocking others. Sadly, no one ever preaches on this sin. Therefore we are not even aware of it.
Let us now look at some biblical instances. In perhaps the first incident of mocking recorded in the Bible we find Sarah seeing Ishmael mocking when Isaac was weaned. Here was Isaac moving out of his dependence on his mother and on his way to growing up t be a young boy. The occasion of mocking was the celebration of the event (Genesis 21:9).
That leads to Hagar and Ishmael being sent away. Paul writes about its spiritual significance too. He says, “At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now (Galatians 4:29).”
Here is the warning. If we continue to mock others, it is doubtful whether we have been truly born of the Spirit. Les Giblin, in his famous book The Art of Dealing with People says, “Don’t ever be sarcastic. It might get a momentary laugh in a group, but the person won’t forget.” So don’t do that with friends even. Coming back to St. Paul, he too reminds us to speak words that build others up (Ephesians 4:29) and not tear them down.
We need to remember that Jesus was mocked during his trial leading up to the crucifixion. David prophetically wrote about it (Psalm 22:6–8). Isaiah too foresaw Jesus, God’s servant, being mocked (Isaiah 50:6). Jesus too predicted that people will mock him (Mark 10:34). It happened to him like that (Matthew 27:29 and 41). So let us remember that the sufferings of Jesus intensified because of mockery he faced.
Let me end by reminding words of wisdom. If you are a mocker you alone will suffer (Proverbs 9:12) and if a mocker is driven out, then there is an end to strife, quarrels and insults (Proverbs 22:10) as happened when Ishmael was driven out. Great judgement is warned against the eye that mocks a father (Proverbs 30:17).
In the light of all this, let us ask God to search our hearts today (Psalm 139:23, 24) to find if there is an offensive way of mockery in us. Let us try to stop the habit of making fun of others and mocking them. Let us not invite judgement upon ourselves by mocking others. Let us seek God’s forgiveness if we are guilty of this sin.
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