A Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest met at a town’s annual 4th of July picnic. Old friends, they began their usual banter.
“This baked ham is really delicious,” the priest teased the rabbi. “You really ought to try it. I know it’s against your religion, but I can’t understand why such a wonderful food should be forbidden! You don’t know what you’re missing. You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried Mrs. Hall’s prized Virginia Baked Ham. Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try it?”
The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin, and said, “At your wedding.”
I don’t know about you, but I love to tease the people I love. I love to see them smile. I love being silly with them and making them laugh.
Three years in a row, I played the same April Fool’s Day joke on my wife. I’d rubber band the sink’s spray hose to the “ON” position, and point it toward the center of the sink so that when Abby turned the water on in the morning to make coffee, she’d get sprayed instead! It was so fun, because she fell for it three years in a row! And then she’d always give me a great, big, wet hug as a thank you.
This year, my wife got me with this very same trick the day before April Fool’s Day, when I was least expecting it. I deserved it.
But sometimes teasing needs to be restrained. Sometimes I can get passive aggressive, and instead of playful teasing, I’m pushing my wife’s buttons. The same intimate knowledge of your spouse that allows you to enjoy lighthearted moments together can also be used to annoy them or make them angry. And we rationalize such things when the other person started the argument or isn’t being fair.
The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. And I’m sure that also includes loving your family members as yourself. God gives us friends and family to share life with them, and to love them, and to be loved by them. God doesn’t place them in our lives so that we can abuse them, annoy them, or ridicule them.
After all, God knows us better than we know ourselves. God could really make us miserable if He wanted! But instead, God shows us His grace over and over again. And let’s not forget that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Harmless jokes that are taken as such are one thing, but as people created in the image of God, let’s make sure we’re showing love to the people around us in the way that we treat them, even if “they started it.”