Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Witness of a Smile

Have you ever noticed how little people tend to smile of their own accord? Even "greeters" in stores often throw a hello or welcome over their shoulder with barely a glance at the customer. To stop and say "hello" or "how are you" to a complete stranger is almost unheard of in today's culture. Everyone is consumed with their own life and business.

And this is one of the very tools that God gives us as a witness of Him.

Last time we looked at the "dump truck syndrome" and realized how easy it is to go on our merry way and forget about the people around us. Now let's go a step further. Let's look at how our attitude to other people- a genuine smile and caring- can be the first step in a witness to them.

We see this very concept alluded to in the sermon on the mount:

"For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans [i.e. sinners/unbelievers] the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:46-48

An unbeliever talks to their friends, those they are acquainted with, or people they need something from or want to know for some other reason. Christians are to show Christ's love by greeting everyone. I do not pretend to have this perfected. There are people with whom I find it difficult to share a smile, much less a "hello." But I do have a heavenly Father who sees people with perfect love, and if I ask Him for help, it is easier through His grace.

As a Believer, I have access to a great quality that the rest of the world yearns to have- true joy. This is attested to both in the old and new testaments.

"Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy..." Psalm 16:11a

"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11

Joy is different from happiness. As the verse above says, joy is "in" us- an inner state of being. It stems from an intimate relationship with Christ, as we see in the Psalms. Joy is what allows us to answer "how are you?" with "doing great!" even when the circumstances around us are falling apart. Joy relies on Christ, what He's given us, and who we are in Him. Since those things never change, our joy cannot be taken from us and can always be FULL.

Happiness is the world's substitute, a shallow feeling based on fickle circumstances and changing emotions. People search again and again for the "high" of happiness, not understanding that it is something deeper that they really need.

Christians, it is our smile that gives witness of Christ. Try it! It works on grumpy people, tired parents, street beggars, homosexuals, muslims, fellow Believers in Christ, and... anyone else. A genuine smile, that lights up your eyes says "I care." People in America today don't see that anymore, and they will want to talk to you more.

Be prepared with an answer that tells of Christ; how they can have the same joyful smile.