I love the Advent season! Since I was shown the wonders of this liturgical season, I believe I have uttered the word “Advent” more in the last three years than I had the entirety of my life. This year is the first year that I have taught through the meaning of Advent in my several years of serving in ministry and I have to confess: The season of Advent has been more refreshing this year than it has ever been in my life.
I think there are many reason for this. First, teaching through the four words which typically represent Advent (hope, peace, joy, and faith) have helped me gain a more appreciative perspective of how they are represented in the Bible and how they relate to the current season. Second, and this is what I would like to focus on, given the mess of a year which has been 2020, the season of Advent reminds me that we not only celebrate the Son of God coming to this earth as a baby, but also that we wait for His second coming in which He will vanquish sin, disease, and death forever.
As I think further about this second reason for my immense love for Advent this year, I am reminded about how early Christmas lights went up this year. These two topics might seem completely unrelated, so let me explain. The day after Halloween this year, I saw many of the houses in my neighborhood setting up their Christmas lights. It was to the point in which these lights were up by the 2nd of November. I thought it might have just been the families in my neighborhood, but apparently this has been a common pattern in other neighborhoods as well. To me, its a further reminder that this season, Christmas to some and Advent to others, is a reminder of hope and peace and joy and faith. Our non-Christian neighbors may never express it exactly like this, but there is something awe inspiring about this season even if you don’t celebrate the coming of Christ.
This year has only exacerbated that feeling. In the dread and dreary year of 2020, people want something to hope for. They want something to put their faith in. They need something that brings them joy. They desire peace from the never-ending news cycle of the election and Covid. They need only what Jesus can bring! Again, they cannot express their need for Christ, but they do know that they are looking for all those things above which only Christ can bring. It all points to a resounding truth: We need the message of Advent!
If you are a Christian and reading this, maybe this year has been a real struggle for you. Maybe you have lost a job, lost a loved one, or have been terribly depressed. I pray that you would take hope in the fact that you have placed your faith in One who has come to this earth, lived a perfect life according to the law, died on a cross taking your sin, and then rose again and ascended to the Father. 2020 will end. This virus will end. Your job loss will end. Your depression will end. But your Lord and Savior will reign forever! He will return and set all things right. Advent is a promise of that!
Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t know Christ. You have heard of Him. You know that at it’s origin, this season is a celebration of Christ’s birth. But the Gospel message, that is the message that God sent His Son to live a life we could not live,die a death on a cross that we deserved and be raised from the dead so that those who place their faith in Him can have eternal life, has eluded you. You may have a hard time believing something so wonderful can be true. In 2020, you are just trying to make it to tomorrow. I pray that you would ponder how faith in Christ might bring you hope, peace, and joy not only in this season but for the rest of your life.
Perhaps in 2020 we need the season of Advent more than we have in previous years. If anything 2020 has reminded all of us who are in Christ that this world is not our home. Life in Christ is incalculably better! This Advent season, may we cry what many have before: Come O’ Come, Immanuel.
“Discipleship is not cool, it’s hard,” I thought while drinking my six-dollar pour over coffee in a hipster coffee shop, wearing a cardigan.
I understand the irony of the statement above. But isn’t this what we have all been taught at some level in American Christianity? Doesn’t the best discipleship happen over a cup of ‘probably-overly expensive coffee’ in a hipster coffee shop? Maybe a McDonalds is more your speed? Nonetheless, I think we have all bought the charade that discipleship is for those who know what they are doing every step of the way.
When in reality, discipleship is so messy (and I mean ‘so’ with like a thousand o’s behind it). It takes time and effort. It means stagnation in your life and in the life of the one you are discipling. We are often too afraid to mention this, even in a blog post, because we are supposed to be the ‘experts’ when we begin discipling someone else. In a culture of ‘experts’ (because they spent 10,000 hours or some other arbitrary number in this craft or because they read a couple of blog posts on the subject which is more likely), discipleship is not one of those things we should ever feel like we have mastered. I would venture to guess there is only one person who ever believed they were worthy of discipling someone else.
The rest of us, who are not the Son of God, have found ourselves stumbling through a slew of awkward conversations which consist of many different ways of encouraging the younger believer to pursue Christ more fully in their lives, to see Christ as more magnificent than they already see Him, or to call them to repent of ongoing sin in their lives. All of these conversations are not simple. They are not cut and dry, black and white. They are difficult! Battling our own sinful flesh and our own pursuit of Christ is hard enough, but encouraging others to battle their flesh and pursue Christ is not easy.
This is why I am encouraged when I look at Scripture and see messed up, broken, sinful men and women who still see their role in discipleship as one which cannot given up. They knew the cost. They knew the difficulty. They realized that some of the people they discipled might not continue in the faith. But they all did something profound: They continued to disciple those who needed to be discipled because they believed in the message of the Gospel to change them. They believed in the Spirit which dwelled in each of them to bring to completion what was not yet complete. They believed that they were called to, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, share not only the Gospel of God but also their own selves.
So let me encourage you. Press on! Press forward! It will still be hard. But be thankful that Christ is always with you in your work to encourage, exhort, and disciple others. And we shouldn’t want it any other way.
I winced a little as I wrote the title of this post because I know that I’m guilty. It’s is far easier for me to criticize what others are doing than to look at how I can encourage them. It’s far easier for me to poke holes than it is for me to help build up. Let me say, before I get too far, there are times in which criticism is necessary. Criticism, if used correctly, can lead to some positive change in a Christian’s life. For example, I have been helped immensely by criticisms my wife has given me in the times she has heard me preach. If I take these valid criticisms and apply them to my preaching, they will only make me better preacher and communicator.
But this is not the sort of criticism I am writing about. The criticism I’m concerned about is the overall critical spirit that I have seen on social media among Christians (some of you reading are already criticizing this post because once again I am calling for charitable living and love of neighbor). This pandemic season has not been an easy one for most. Loss of job, loss of social interaction, and loss of life have plagued us all. The stressful situations around us have created a natural breeding ground for discontentment and complaint. Unfortunately, this has manifested itself in criticism which goes far beyond matters of discerning between right and wrong. Social media has been filled with overly-critical posts on a variety of issues, but one such incident has bugged me more than any other. I will try to tread lightly as I mention this because I know that I can easily display the same overly-critical spirit.
When the pandemic began, churches closed rather quickly in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. The hope was that if churches stopped gathering, they could best slow the spread of the virus and protect those in the congregation, especially those who were most vulnerable. As the spread of the virus slowed and it became safe to gather again, some churches began to meet again at half or less than half capacity. Some churches were creative in the ways they could meet which included outdoor services, drive-in services, and a combination of indoor and outdoor services. Some requiring masks, some did not. Other churches chose to continue to meet online. Fast forward to mid-to-late July and the Coronavirus is still raging through the country, over a hundred thousand people have died, and churches are still asking similar questions about regathering. This has forced church leaders to make difficult decisions impacting the spiritual and physical health of their congregation..
Two weeks ago now, Grace Community Church issued a statement from their elders which stated that they “cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings” even though the state of California passed an order which mandated churches to limit or suspend their church services. Their statement is well written and filled with Scripture, containing many points that pastors should honestly think through. I have no qualms or quarrels with John MacArthur or Grace Community Church for deciding to continue to gather. It was rather what has been said or written by some other Christians who zealously support JM and GCC. A number of tweets and status updates from this group have criticized other churches for “bowing to Caesar” because they are not following in GCC’s footsteps. This is a problem.
I will repeat what I wrote above (with more emphasis): Church leaders in this pandemic have a nearly impossible job. It is hard enough trying to sift through the confusing and contradictory information that is floating through the internet. It’s even harder to make a decision with all of this contradictory information when they are being criticized for their decisions. Christians, instead of criticizing the leaders of other churches or the leaders of their own church, should be in constant prayer for them. Given the debate over whether churches should gather or not, I find it a bit ironic that one of the places this word encouragement shows up is in the same passage that promotes gathering as a church
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
The gathering of believers is important. Scripture is clear on this. But its the reason for gathering that should draw our attention. We are to consider one another to provoke love and good works. We are to encourage one another. We aren’t gathering (physically or digitally) in order to criticize them for their incorrect response.We are gathering for the purpose of spurring one another up in love. We are gathering in order to encourage those who need encouragement.
First Thessalonians relays a similar message:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:11-14)
The commandment is once again very clear. We are to encourage and build each other up. This is what the family of God is supposed to look like! Yes, we call out sin as sin. Yes, we condemn false doctrine. But we should still always be defined by how we love each other! We should always be looking for ways to encourage our brothers and sisters in this time! This is how the church will be attractive to a world who doesn’t know Christ. We must ask ourselves: How can we expect the world to desire being a part of our churches if we are constantly complaining and criticizing those who are in them?
I want to reiterate that this is not a post to criticize the decision JM and GCC have made. That being said, I don’t necessarily believe that churches are bowing to Caesar if they are restricting their services or changing their normal formatting during this pandemic. There have been several great articles (linked at the bottom) written addressing the decision by GCC. I think they are worth reading and considering for anyone who wants another godly perspective. My hope after reading this is that you and I won’t be so quick to criticize those God has placed over us. Instead, may we devote ourselves to prayer for these men who lead our churches. May we find ways to encourage them in this tough season. It may be a letter, a text or simply a status update/tweet stating your appreciation for them. Seek to build up, not tear down. May God be glorified by our love for neighbor and for Him!
The above line is not in Scripture in case you were wondering. It is a clever distortion of a phrase I’ve heard from quite a few people after some recent events in my life. The line above should read: You shall know them by their love. This phrase is also not found in Scripture. So why then do I write something with a “semi-clickbatey” title? Am I here to talk about how true Christians should give up their rights and wear a mask in order to love their neighbor? No, I don’t really have the time or the energy to make an argument like that, although I’m sure I could. I’m sure there are other articles that have done that well enough. Am I writing this because there is a difference between the Christians who wear a mask and the Christians won’t or refuse to wear a mask? No (I’m sure there is a difference but the spectrum is so large that it would take a year-long LifeWay Study to figure it out).
The reason I write is because of the poorly paraphrased verse in that first paragraph. It should say this:
By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
Through all of these arguments of wear a mask vs. don’t wear a mask; this is a government conspiracy vs. this isn’t a government conspiracy; the mask doesn’t help vs. the mask does help, I’ve seen more animosity and anger between people who claim to be Christians than I’ve seen love for one another. I’ve seen more fruit of the flesh than I have fruit of the Spirit. I’ve seen more online interactions which carry an heir of superiority than a Christ-like humility.
As someone who also is a Christ-follower with firm opinions on these issues, I know I have the same temptation to consider my opinion on this issue as greater than theirs. I have the same proclivity to consider their side as unloving and less faithful to scripture than my own. The reality is that we all have blindspots in our Christian lives. None of us always see where attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions fall far short of Christlikeness. We can always sacrifice love for the pursuit of truth.
But this is not what we have been called to as believers. Instead, let us take time to listen and consider how we can best respond to someone who disagrees with us in a loving manner. Lord willing, Covid will be over one day and when it is many of us will forget the smaller arguments that were had. But one thing people will alway remember is how they were treated by their fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Will it be filled with love? Or will others find that a surgical mask wasn’t the only mask we were wearing?
Hiatus – A pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.
Year – The time taken by the earth to make one revolution around the sun.
It feels like it was just yesterday when I had grand aspirations for this blog. I was going to post roughly two times per month. I was going to write, as I saw it, the connection between Christ and culture. I was going to stick with it and develop my writing chops slaving away at a keyboard or something like that.
But here I am, two years later. I wrote above that it feels like yesterday, but these last two years…
these last two years…
You know when people describe periods of time as if they ‘lasted ages.’ They describe it as time ‘having slowed down.’ They describe it as ‘painful and fraught with worry and panic.’ The last two years, in my life and many of my friends lives, could be described in this very same manner.
You may be looking up at the definitions above and wondering why I defined both of those words. Defining hiatus makes sense. It’s not a word that we use all that often..but year? Why did I define year? It’s because if you were to ask me what these last two years have been like, since my last post, I would have to double check to make sure it hasn’t been four or five or ten years (ok, ten might be an exaggeration, but you understand my point). Two years have passed and with it I have experienced or witnessed the following: a church split, my son’s hospital visit, personal mistrust of character, destruction of another church, backbiting, bitterness, anger, frustration, a miscarriage, more mistrust of character, a pandemic, political polarization, racial injustice and on and on the list goes. Who would imagine two revolutions around the sun could contain all of this?
Before I start throwing a pity party for myself, I want to reassure people that good things have happened, dispersed in among the bad. I’ve celebrated two anniversaries to my lovely wife, this year making our sixth. My son is healthy and will turn three later this year. I watched one of my best friends get married. God continues to be faithful to me and my family in spite of my severe shortcomings. Friendships have grown and new friendships have blossomed.
This leads to that first word up there, hiatus. While there has been a hiatus from writing these past two years, there is never really been a hiatus in seeing culture intersect with Christ. No pause button has been pushed on my life which has allowed me to simply stay where I was two years ago. Wisdom has been gained through experiences (I hope). God has revealed His immense and wonderful grace through each of these circumstances, good and bad. He has been Faithful and Present in each of these things, just as He will continue to be Present and Faithful because that is Who He is.
So the two-year writing hiatus is over, but the hiatus of observing and trying to makes sense of what God is actively doing, has never actually, really ever happened.
This is an older entry of mine. It was written in the summer of 2016. Hope you enjoy.
- Students partake in the Great Commission
- Students realize the things they have been blessed with
- Students see modeled for them Kingdom work
- Students live out their faith
- Students learn their spiritual gifts and talents
- Students learn to love each other
- Students get a true vision of the Church
I challenged myself at the beginning of the year, much like I always do, to read through the Bible within the year. For someone looking at vocational ministry in their future (Lord willing, of course), I figured this would be a worthwhile endeavor. I’ll be completely honest here, this is not the first time I have set out to accomplish this goal. I have tried to do this nearly three or four time before and have found myself behind within the first couple of months…ok, maybe weeks…or was it days? In falling so far behind, it became discouraging. So discouraging in fact, I just gave up. This year, I fully expected it to be similar. My title says otherwise. Yes, I have made it halfway through the year and as a result, read halfway through the Bible. I am not using this post to pat myself on the back or show just how holy I am (trust me, I’m nowhere near most if not all the people who will read this post). This post instead is a couple of things I have learned in reading the Bible for half of the year.
1. Reading the Bible daily is not as hard as I thought.
The bible reading plan I use requires me to read one section from the Gospels, one section from the New Testament, a psalm/proverb, and a passage from the Old Testament. Upon reading this, you may find yourself struggling to imagine yourself reading that much in one sitting. The great thing is that you don’t have to. While it is ideal for me to sit down and read all of my reading plan in one sitting, I sometimes find myself reading part of it in the morning and the rest of it in the evening. This has made it much easier to digest all of it. The plan I use is on the YouVersion Bible app which makes it easy to go from passage to passage without flipping through your physical Bible to do it. I have also printed out a copy of it and placed it at my desk at work as a reminder of the passages I need to read that day. Each day on the app and on the printed copy have a box which is checked off after reading the assigned passages for each day. This, as a person who likes to see progress, is an encouragement to me as I read the passage and then check off the boxes as I go. All of this has made it much easier for me to be in the Word daily rather than sporadically throughout the week.
I should also mention that the YouVerson app has streaks (much like Snapchat) which record the number of days in a row you have been reading in the app. Again, this helps me to stay motivated and “keep the streak.”
2. Reading the Bible daily is more difficult that I thought.
Yes, this sounds like a contradiction from the point I just made. In a way, it certainly is. While I have found myself successfully completed half of the year of my Bible reading plan, I have discovered what things in my life often get in the way of reading the Bible. I can tell you that while I have enjoy spending time in God’s Word, there are often things I would rather do. There have been nights in which I have been up late reading my passages for the day because I didn’t use the free time I had during the day to do it. I have discovered, through this process, just how much time I spend on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram when I could be reading my passages for the day. I do not use all the time I have as I should. I do not spend enough time focusing/meditating on God’s Word. It is a work of God’s grace that I have made it this far. God has given me the time I need to be in His Word. I simply need to use the time He has given me well.
3. The Bible does not have to always be studied deeply to experience intimacy with God.
Before all the Reformed people jump all over me for making this point, let me first clarify. As a seminarian, I value my deep study of doctrine (I am currently studying Union with Christ). I am a strong believer in reading deeply and focusing on specific passages, verses, etc. and mining the depths that they contain. But, through this half a year, I have gathered valuable insight and a greater love for Christ simply by reading through His Word. There are times in which I have read and reread a passage several times because it was so meaningful, but I have discovered the God’s deep faithfulness in preserving a line of David among the evil kings in 2 Kings. I have admired the emotion shown in psalms I have never read before. I have reread passages in the Gospels I never understood and now understand them. All of this is not because I have spent extensive time looking at the Greek and Hebrew, but because God has revealed in in reading His Word daily.
4. The Bible is completely about Christ’s work of redemption.
There is far too much to explain here, but I will try to do my best in brief fashion. I have been taught that the above point is true. I believed this truth when I heard it back in my sophomore year of college. As I have read half the narrative of the Bible, I can surely say that I have experienced for myself. The fall in Genesis points to a Savior who will come and make all things new. The sacrificial system described in Leviticus points to the need of a Perfect Sacrifice who will come and cleanse humanity of their sins. The Gospels are filled with the work of Christ which culminates in the His death on a cross and his resurrection. The epistles point to the completed work of Christ and how, therefore, we should live because of His completed work. All of Scripture points to Christ. Look for it!
I’m currently in the second half of my Bible reading plan. I’m in some unfamiliar territory in the Old Testament or at least, less familiar territory (I mean, who reads 1 & 2 Chronicles for devotionals). My ultimate hope is that I can finish well and complete my reading plan. I can attest to the good that reading through the Bible has had on my life. I have discovered things I have never noticed in reading some of these passages again. I have started to understand passages I did not understand the first couple of time I had read them. Most importantly, each day of reading gives me the potential to become more like Christ. It gives me a better understanding of who I am and Who God is. It gives me a better understanding of my need to repent of my sin. It gives me a love for God’s Word and for Christ. It is a daily acknowledgement that I need Christ.
Bible Reading Plan: The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan
It caught me off guard. I was sitting with a student I have been discipling for nearly 4 years now. We were catching up with each other over a bowl of chips and salsa which sat before us. Our interchange began with some fairly general questions about my job, his future endeavors, and what we had missed in the last months since meeting. As we were talking over whether or not a lawn business or college would make a better career, he pauses and says, “You are the most sarcastic person I know.” I wasn’t surprised. Generally, I see comments like these as complements. I tend to be rather sarcastic and enjoy the witty banter that often follows. I then pushed further, saying, “Well, I am sarcastic, but at least I’m not cynical about it.” I waited for him to agree with me. Unfortunately, the words I heard out of his mouth did not echo what I imagined him saying in my head. “Well” he said, “Actually, much of what you say can tend to be quite cynical.” This was a comment I could not ignore.
Sarcasm, cynicism, and pessimism are not unique to me or my generation (Note: I’ll use these words somewhat interchangeably although I am aware of the nuances with each of these words). These are all ultimately heart issues which have been within the human race since the beginning of time. It is certainly not something that we find to be simply a generational trend, but a multi-generational trend. But where have these attitudes, which I would argue has turned mainly into cynicism, come from? Why do I see in my own language and attitudes, a sense that I am far more pessimistic than previous generations? Why am I seeing this in others while those older than us speak words which are far more positive and encouraging? More importantly, how do I and others actually live out and speak with the joy we are supposed to have as people who have been saved from sin and death?
Why Are we So Pessimistic/Cynical?
I stated above that pessimism, cynicism, and sarcasm are heart issues. While they can be linked to outside circumstances, these outside circumstances are not the reason for our cynicism or pessimism. Nevertheless, here some reasons I see as to why we are so pessimistic/cynical:
First, Millennials and beyond will never quite live with the same financial wealth of our parents. If you want evidence of this, you can simply google search the topic. When you do, you will find that Millennials, in particular, make less now than their parents did when they were the same age. The economy is not what it once was. Many children of the Boomers will never quite live with the same comforts financially that their parents had or that they had growing up. In a world with an ever increasing cost of living, Millennials and I-Gen’s find themselves asking themselves how they can possibly pay the cost to live while paying of student loans as well. I see this constantly on Facebook where people complain that the cost of living is higher than what a minimum wage job pays. I see this in my own life with student loans. Some will argue that spending on hobbies has also increased. While I believe this is true and that many Millennials and (I believe the data says otherwise for I-Gen’s) spend beyond their means, student debt and cost of living have certainly made it easier for these generations to be quite cynical and more pessimistic about their future.
Second, smart phones and social media have created a comparison culture. Nothing makes you pessimistic quite like comparison. In a day where we can see instant updates and pictures of the house our friends just bought or the vacation they are currently on, it is easy to become cynical of them. It is easy to ask the all-too common questions of why you can’t afford a house or can’t afford a vacation. It is easy to be discontent with where you are which often turns into jealousy which turns into a cynical attitude. Recent studies have shown that more time on a smart phone and social media is linked to unhappiness as well as depression. With the amount of time Millennials and I-Gen spend on their phones, it is not difficult to see why they are so unhappy. Instead of living our own lives, we are constantly comparing our lives with others on social media. We associate other’s lives with what they post rather than what they actually are. We start to believe that the pictures posted of the “perfect moments” describe their lives at all times. This, of course, is not the case. There are hardships, disappointments and challenges in their lives just like our own. Our lives are more similar than they are different even though our social media pages may say otherwise. The comparisons we make with others only cause us to question why we have not been given the same things they have.
Third, our worldview is filled with pessimism and our media reflects this. Have you watched the news lately? Read the latest headline? We are coming off of a week in which two celebrities who seemed to have their lives put together committed suicide. Within the last couple of months we’ve seen headlines which include several more instances of individuals being accused of sexual misconduct which spurred the #metoo movement inside and outside the church. Politics divide the country more than at any other time in the nation’s history. Law enforcement, who should be protecting all people, have been accused and found guilty of crimes which were unspeakable. Not surprisingly, due to these events, people are cynical of Hollywood, government and any other authority. In our eyes, the world does not seem to be getting any better but much worse. More and more, it looks as if people only do anything for their own pleasure, no matter how diabolical that act may be. Any good that may be done in this world is overshadowed by evil. Millennials and I-Gen’s have caught on to this as streams of news hits their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. The result is less trust of others and less hope for the future.
Is it biblical to have an attitude of pessimism and cynicism? The answer is a resounding no. People who have the hope of the Gospel understand that their life if more than what is lived on this earth. Christians have a future hope which is far greater than the trials and tribulations they will face here. The suffering Christians will face or feel like they are facing because of their economic situation, the sorrow experienced in this life or the grind of day-to-day living in a fallen world “is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). How can we possibly live a life of pessimism when we compare it to what we will one day receive?
If we understand the Gospel and its effects on our daily lives, we know we have been called to something more. Christians have been called to a life that is separate from the attitudes and the actions we see in this world. They are called to be a holy people who desire to live out the Gospel in their daily lives. They understand that they have been called to be salt and light in a culture that is in constant decay and in darkness (Matt. 5:13-16). Our attitudes and our words must be different because we are different people. We are ambassadors, not of a Kingdom which evokes sorrow, but of a Kingdom which one day promises no more tears or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). We have a Savior who has given us life to the full (Jn. 10:10b). This is worth celebrating. It is worth living our lives filled with joy. We can wholeheartedly live joyful lives because we know Who is in control. We know we serve the One who holds everything together (Col. 1:17).
What About Sarcasm?
I realize I’ve spent no space on the issue of sarcasm. Here is my brief take on it (maybe I’ll post more on the subject later). I’m sure some older and much wiser saints may disagree with me and at some point I may disagree with younger, less mature self. I am under the opinion that sarcasm can be used well if it is used sparingly. While I understand that it can and is often used for the belittling of others, it can also be used in a self-deflating way. This is the best way I have seen sarcasm used. While the Bible uses sarcasm, I am hesitant to promote either Paul’s use of it in 1 Corinthian 4:8 or Elijah’s use of it in 1 Kings 18:27 as reasons to use it because I know my heart. I know that I have a tendency to use sarcasm to promote myself and how funny I can be rather than using it to deflate my ego. I know I can use sarcasm to poke fun at institutions and authority when I should simply keep my mouth shut and be in prayer for them. There are good uses of sarcasm, but if I’m honest, I rarely use sarcasm as I should. My sarcasm can easily become cynicism and pessimism. As a Christ follower, I am looking to honor him in my words and at this point in my life the way to do that is to use it sparingly. Perhaps your heart is better than mine and your sarcasm never has a cynical bent to it. As for me, I know myself well enough to know that I must refrain from using it far more than I currently do.