My Smile, God’s Glory?

17 01 2008

In some Christian circles, the more long and somber your face, the more godly you must be.  Often this is the way the Puritans are painted, as those drab and delight-less saints of old who might burn you at the stake if you were found to be of a cheery temperament.  However, as this quote from our brother Thomas Watson makes quite clear, this was not the case.  As you read his words, realize he is saying more than “it is OK to smile.”  He’s actually pointing out the blasphemy in our sour dispositions.  Next time you go to work with a chip on your shoulder or come home and kick the cat, take a moment and think through what you actions are saying about the God you serve.

“We glorify God by walking cheerfully. It brings glory to God, when the world sees a Christian has that within him that can make him cheerful in the worst times; that can enable him, with the nightingale, to sing with a thorn at his breast. The people of God have ground for cheerfulness. They are justified and adopted, and this creates inward peace; it makes music within, whatever storms are without. 2 Cor 1:41 Thess 1:6 If we consider what Christ has wrought for us by his blood, and wrought in us by his Spirit, it is a ground of great cheerfulness, and this cheerfulness glorifies God. It reflects upon a master when the servant is always drooping and sad; sure he is kept to hard commons, his master does not give him what is fitting; so, when God’s people hang their heads, it looks as if they did not serve a good master, or repented of their choice, which reflects dishonour on God. As the gross sins of the wicked bring a scandal on the gospel, so do the uncheerful lives of the godly. Ps 100:2. ‘Serve the Lord with gladness.’ Your serving him does not glorify him, unless it be with gladness. A Christian’s cheerful looks glorify God; religion does not take away our joy, but refines it; it does not break our viol, but tunes it, and makes the music sweeter.”

Thomas Watson, from the sermon Man’s Chief End

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3 responses

17 01 2008
Frank Emrich

Ryan, I enjoyed reading your post this morning, but I have some questions. Does one have to always wear a smile as proof that one has the joy of the Lord? What about those of us who were not born with a “smilely face”? Often while pondering some deeper thought, or perhaps dealing with a very serious situation, or feeling a deep sadness at the death of someone, etc, people will say to me, “Is something wrong?” or, “are you mad?” and then there are those annoying co-workers who will say, “Do you need a hug?” While the lack of a smile should not be considered a mark of spirituality or godliness, at the same time it should not be judged as one having no joy or happiness. I have difficulty in imagining the Apostle Paul wearing a constant smile, especially after 39 lashes! Now don’t misunderstand, smile and laugh all you want, you bring others joy when you do, just don’t expect everyone to do that. Especially those of us who think we have been given the responsibility to carry the burdens and cares of the world on our shoulders! And what about those of us who have no friends? What about those of us who never get invited to Jenaya’s BD party? Or kids BD parties? Or those of us who are losing our hair (I’d like to see you smile about that!) Just kidding for most of it, God bless you, I smile when I think of you because God has blessed me with such an outstanding son in law and co laborer..

17 01 2008
Ryan

Yikes! Maybe you need a hug? Seriously though, I understand what you are saying, but even when Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison we find them singing and rejoicing (Acts 16:25; although, maybe they were singing somber songs). After Peter and John were flogged they went away rejoicing (Acts 6:41). No matter how severe our trial (and their will be times of weeping) it doesn’t hold a candle to what we have in Christ (2 Cor. 4:16-17). There is always cause to rejoice. Even when weighed down with anxieties and concerns we can rejoice because we have a God upon whom we can cast those burdens (1 Peter 5:7)! So for a believer there is always a myriad of reasons for a joy filled heart, and if somehow our face has lost connection with that joy filled heart, maybe we need to go see a doctor and get it fixed! Now, I’m coming down to your office to give you a hug…

17 01 2008
Ryan

Oh, and if you smiled a little more, maybe you’d find yourself invited to more birthday parties? However, I don’t know if smiling will do anything for the hair; sorry.

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