But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
Oh this is an important topic! There are so many men in our culture that have no idea what it means to be serious and wise. Our culture glorifies the man who is constantly joking and acting like a fool. I believe our culture idolizes that kind of man, because it is the polar opposite of what the scripture lays out what a man of God should look like.
There is a time for levity. There is nothing wrong with smiling or laughing. In fact, the scriptures implore us:
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
However, if you are known as a man who is always joking; if you have a reputation for never being serious; if you are generally known as the “life of the party;” then I urge you to take caution! Such men may be popular in our culture, but they lack the fortitude to keep their faith through the difficult times.
Look back in history. Note the truly great men. Was George Washington a prankster and a joker? A quick read through his Rules of Civility (which he authored sometime before his 16th birthday) will answer this question promptly. His rule number 19 reads:
Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
Washington implores us in rule 47:
Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abstain from Laughing there at yourself.
Number 108 reads: (eighteenth century spelling preserved)
When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & wt. Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.
It is clearly seen that George Washington was a sober minded man. I believe that if you were to research them, you would find similar characteristics in other great leaders, both secular and in the church. Consider Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, Martin Luther, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson. The list goes on and on.
So, joke if you must, sparingly, but please do not lack for serious minded discussion as a typical rule of life.