Question:

Hi again!

You answered a questioned I had previously, but I was wondering if I could ask you for some more advice. I realize there are people in my life who are good Christians, I'm just not sure how to ask for advice when I'm the one usually giving it.

I started working at my job over a year ago and become good friends with a boy. He and I were always joking around and pulling pranks on others. After a while, though, I feel like his joking with me has become aggressive. He will always find a way to make fun of me now. He'll tell me how bad of a NFL team I cheer for is and compare them to his. He started saying that no one likes me or he'll watch and see if I clock in late. Even if I'm a minute late, he'll say I'm always late and go on to bring it up the rest of the day. He even said he is going to pray that his kids aren't Dolphins fans like I am.

I don't think he is being serious by any means, but I don't understand how our good fun turned into attacking. I will occasionally say something witty back to him but for the most part I've just ignored him because nothing I say can get him to stop attacking me later. It seems like he does this less when we are alone together to the point that we have normal talks, but he'll still add something in.

What really is upsetting is that I was even able to talk to him about God at one point, but now I feel like I can't even be his friend let alone talk to him about something serious. A friend who works with us told me he would look at the schedule to see if I worked and he would get excited if I was working. Now I come in and he says, "Oh, great you are working." Or some sort of remark like that. I don't know if I have done something to encourage this, or if this is a guy's way to treat me like one of the boys, but I'm really lost. I don't want to constantly be on the defense with him anymore.

Thank you again for reading this!


Answer:

The problem with humor is that it isn't funny when the other person doesn't know you were joking. My guess is that somewhere in the past one of your jokes really wounded him. You didn't notice because you thought you were having fun. But for many people a hit to me means I need to strike back harder. That is why we have warnings, such as "Do not say, "I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work"" (Proverbs 24:29).

You'll need to completely change your tactics here.

"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21).

Tell him that you are tired of the mean talk and put downs. Apologize for even starting it. Then regardless of how he treats you, you go out of your way to find things that you can sincerely compliment him about. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

It is also possible that he mistakenly thinks you enjoy this because of the past, not knowing when to quit. But even here the same tactic will win you a reprieve. It doesn't mean you give up on humor, but put effort into pranks and jokes that actually make the other person feel better about himself. That might take some time and thought, but it will improve you as well as him. "It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel" (Proverbs 20:3).

It might take a while for it to sink in that you won't verbally joust with him anymore, but give it some time and you will see that it will get progressively less.