What is a smile? It is very common these days to see celebrities or political figures who smile on demand, looking this way and that, wherever the camera is. But for most of them, it seems to be part of the job, and they smile with their mouth but not with their eyes. It is also common to watch television news and see the journalists with this same smile, with their mouth but not with their eyes. I often wonder if this constant smiling is part of the job description.
There are many types of smiles, a pet dog’s goofy, toothy grin (any dog owner will attest to the fact that their dog does indeed smile.) There is a child’s innocent, joyful smile; or the sad smile of a person who has lost a loved one and has family and friends around them, where the mouth is smiling, but the eyes tell a different story. There is the brave smile that one sees when a person who has been through a natural disaster is interviewed, in this case the eyes have a resigned or shocked appearance while the mouth smiles, depending on how long ago the disaster happened. There is the deceptive smile of a flatterer. I know a flatterer and to see this smile is to see a deceitful, subtle and somewhat evil expression in the eyes. Notice that in most of these examples, there is a difference between the eyes and the mouth when smiling.
I would like to post about a subject that is rather difficult to put into words, but it has been on my heart for years, that being the subject of the smile, and particularly, the Christian lady who believes it is necessary for her to smile all the time. I say lady because I have never seen Christian men be part of this seeming need.
I have known many sincere, lovely, mostly elderly Christian ladies whose smiles made them look as though they were lit from within, full of joy and peace and these are wonderful to behold. On the other hand, I have known ladies who are smiling all the time, as though they get up in the morning, put on the smile and go about their day. Whether shopping in a mall, or out for a walk, or going to garage sales, that smile never leaves the face, but again, the smile is with the mouth and not with the eyes.
So why is this so common? I have been told for years that I am far too serious, and by another Christian lady, one who smiles all the time, that she is tired of seeing long-faced Christians.
The words smile, smiles, or smiled are not in the King James bible. There is no command to smile. There is the command to love one another: John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.” Joy is often mentioned. John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” But what is joy? Noah Websters 1828 describes joy as “a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good…happiness, to rejoice, to be glad..” I am very sure that if a person is smiling because they are joyful, they would have that most beautiful smile mentioned earlier, the smile that is lit from within, giving that beautiful glow, the eyes smiling with the mouth. The person with the merry heart.
And so I ask this question, when you smile, is it from within because you are so full of joy that you can’t help but smile? Or is it because as a Christian you think that it is your obligation to smile to everyone to try and show them that you are a Christian.. a smile that is not sincere, one that is put on, one that is with the mouth, but not with a joyful heart, one that does not come from within, one that does not light the eyes..
This post is not meant to cause offense, but one which I hope will be pondered.