In Jean Fleming’s book Pursue the Intentional Life, she talks about the “Ministry of the Countenance,” which means that the way your face looks is important! It can either be a blessing or a discouragement to others.
Those of us who know God, who have been saved from destruction and eternal lostness, who carry around in our bodies the treasure of the gospel and the Holy Spirit Himself, should radiate something of that wonder. Paul wrote that we ‘have this treasure in jars of clay’ (2 Cor. 4:7). How could there not be a certain glory about us?
She mentioned that her children were sometimes worried and would ask if she was angry at them because of the way her face was set.
She then goes on to say:
As social creatures, humans read one another unconsciously. My body language and expression telegraphs signals to those around me. What message am I sending?
(Pursue the Intentional Life, p. 82)
Most of us have a resting face that is not friendly or welcoming. When I am taking a picture or trying to FaceTime and mistakenly turn the camera back on myself (I know, duh!), I am often shocked at how grumpy I look. It’s just my resting face, I’m not angry or upset. But that’s the face I show to the world if I’m not thinking about it. It’s certainly not a face of blessing!
I also had the experience Jean writes of, where my children asked, “What’s wrong?” There was nothing wrong, but I was deep in thought and they were worried by the look on my face. Other times, I would catch them looking at me and would intentionally flash them my goofiest smile, just to brighten the mood. We have more power than we realize, especially in our homes.
Numbers 6:24-26 is a familiar passage, used to impart God’s blessing.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace”
But notice the components of this blessing: His face shining on us, His face turning towards us. He’s paying attention; we have his favor and approval.
When you are talking to someone, it’s important to feel that you have their full attention. You want them to look you in the eye, to track with you, to understand. God not only does that for us, but He is gracious and gives us peace while engaged with us. He is the God who sees us and listens to our prayers. What a gift!
My last year in college I was sitting at a sporting event with my boyfriend and a friend of his. Later, this guy’s girlfriend joined us. I had never officially met her, but when we were introduced, she said, “I know you! You’re the girl who always smiled at me when I cleaned your floor.” Then I remembered that she had been on the housekeeping staff and I had occasionally seen her in my dorm. I wasn’t brave enough to actually talk to someone I didn’t know, but apparently I routinely smiled at her.
I was so amazed by this, that she had remembered me from years before and that my awkward smiles had made an impact.
During my worst struggles with anger and bitterness, I rarely smiled. I was never happy with anyone and people were wary of me, probably in part because of how my face looked. If you are living in unforgiveness or harboring a grudge towards someone, you will not smile at them or be a blessing with your countenance. Your face shows what’s in your heart. Your face shows what’s in your heart. Click To Tweet
How grateful I am for God’s forgiveness and healing! I smile a lot more these days, and it is the fruit of genuine joy and peace. And my desire is to bless others, even just wth my facial expression. Since reading Jean Fleming’s book, I have been more intentional about smiling at people, wherever I go. Don’t underestimate how the Lord may use your smile to encourage someone today.
Have you thought about how often you smile?