If God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and we have the ability to enjoy humor or appreciate a joke, then it makes sense that God has a sense of humor as well! You could say we "inherited" it from our Heavenly Father. Take a look at some of the animals God created (I'm looking at you, manatee), and it becomes pretty clear that God has created some funny-looking plants and animals too. And remember when God used a donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:21-39)?
We can definitely find examples of God having a sense of humor in the Bible. The following story is a favorite of mine and describes how God responded to the Philistines stealing the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites:
"Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
"When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD.
"So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.
"Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day." —1 Samuel 5:1-5
Isn't it a little comical that God chose to put Dagon in a position of submission instead of just obliterating the house of Dagon? It was like He was laughing at the foolishness of those who opposed Him.
Nothing God does is against His character, and God's sense of humor will always bring Him glory. Let me take a moment to make this clear though: God is not being a jerkface by scoffing at those who oppose Him (Psalm 59:7-9). All glory is due to Him, and those who oppose Him are trying to 'take away' from God. God takes no joy in the disobedience of His opposition, even if He may mock them. He has every right to, but He always wants to see them turn to Him instead (Matthew 23:37-38).
"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?" —Ezekiel 33:11
And this brings us to the difference between man's and God's sense of humor. When God uses mockery, He can because all glory is due to Him. When we use mockery, it is not appropriate because we have no right. Human beings are not on the same level as God.
Of course, a lot of what the world calls funny is not actually funny at all but crass or crude and should have no part in a Christian’s life (Colossians 3:8). Also, any humor that is done at the expense of someone else's feelings, that only tears them down instead of building them up, is also something that God says we should not do (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29).?
If your humor is lighthearted, doesn't hurt you (self-depreciating) or anyone else (slams or disrespects; even someone who isn't there), and does not go against God's commands for our lives (in any serious manner), then it is perfectly fine.
Lighthearted sarcasm and a sharp wit can be fun ways to use the intelligence God gave us. Humor can be a wonderful way to cheer up a friend or bring levity to a too-serious situation (when appropriate of course). God can use you to encourage and bring joy to others with the heart and humor that He has given you. But cutting remarks at the expense of someone else is not using that gift of humor how God intended. (Proverbs 26:18-19).
Be discerning about different situations and whether or not humor is appropriate at that time. Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."
Always have control over yourself and your words because the tongue is the quickest weapon and sometimes strikes before we even realize what has happened. James 3:8 says that the tongue is "a restless evil, full of deadly poison," so we must keep it tamed!
When in doubt, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom before entering a situation where it might not be a good idea to exercise your wit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us know God's truth (John 16:13).
Yes, God has given us the ability to appreciate humor and share jokes with our friends. It's certainly not a sin to laugh! But we also need to be aware of our words, others' feelings, and different situations where humor may or may not be appropriate.
A lot of what the world calls funny is not actually funny at all but crass or crude and should have no part in a Christian’s life (Colossians 3:8). At the same time, humor can be a great way to cheer up or encourage a friend. Yes, God gave us the ability to laugh, and it's not a sin! But we also need to be aware of our words, others' feelings, and different situations where humor may or may not be appropriate (John 16:13).
Heidi Joelle is an executive assistant by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or traveling somewhere new. Her sidekick Smokey the Saint Bernard is rarely far off, usually pretending he's asleep.