It was a clearcut case of arson. The perpetrator had torched his own home. But he would never be brought to justice. Why? The criminal was a jackdaw, a member of the crow family. He had picked up a red-hot cigarette and dropped the “prize” into his nest.

The jackdaw’s name comes from an old English word used to ridicule foolish, thievish, and overly talkative people. The bird lives up to its reputation. On the ground, it struts about with a swagger; in flight, it has a flair for showy aerial displays. And at roosting time, the jackdaw loves being part of the noisy crowd.

Some of the most enjoyable people have a similar zest for life. Their love of a practical joke and a good laugh makes them the highlight of any party. But, like the jackdaw, these happy-go-lucky individuals can come up short on discernment. They can “start fires” of irritation in their own homes by being foolish rather than sensitive to the feelings of others.

Let’s learn from the freewheeling jackdaw and from the author of Ecclesiastes (2:13). Although fun and games have their place, a joke is never funny when it comes at another’s expense. Be careful to distinguish between refreshing fun and insensitive foolishness.