Is jesting a virtue?

Thomas Manton wisely said,

“The praise of a Christian is not in the wittiness, 424094_chatter_teeth_3but in the graciousness of his conversation. That which is Aristotle’s virtue is made a sin with Paul* (foolish jesting). You should rather be refreshing one another with what experiences you have had of the Lord’s grace; that is the comfort and solace of Christians when they meet together. …A Christian that has God and Christ, and his wonderful and precious benefits to talk of, and so many occasions to give thanks, he cannot want [lack] matter to discourse of when he comes into company; therefore we should avoid vain discourse.”

*Ephesians 5:4 in the KJV says, “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” The Greek term for “jesting” here is eutrapelia, which Aristotle, in his Ethics, makes a virtue. Today, the term “jesting” is simply taken to mean harmless joking around. But the ESV translation captures its original, worldly sense: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

Lord help us to please you with our lips.

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