Some people are natural smilers and others don’t feel the need or desire to smile all of the time. Does this mean that smiling persons are happier than non-smilers? Does the Bible instruct us to smile as a matter of obedience and responsibility?
I fall into the category of a non-smiler. I tend to smile only when I am particularly happy or see someone I’m glad to see. But this doesn’t mean I’m unhappy most of the time. In fact, I don’t expect to be happy most of the time. If I hit 60 to 70 percent on the happiness scale in any given day, I consider it a good day. Happiness is a transient emotion, while contentment and dedication, in spite of circumstances, are manifestations of our sanctification.
One of the women I have the privilege of mentoring confided to me recently that she, too, was among the non-smilers of the world and that being around smilers sometimes drives her nuts. She did clarify, though, that as a result of her faith, she doesn’t have negative thoughts running through her head and truly finds her hope in Christ. What she struggles with now is that often the efforts of her children or close acquaintances don’t seem quite good enough in her estimation—that no matter what, her focus centers on the reality that things can always be improved upon or done better.
What she is experiencing is a progression in her sanctification. In other words, she is ready to step things up a notch. Mediocrity is not something she intends to be cheerful about when she sees it manifested in herself, members of her family, or friends, etc. She feels as though saying “good job” is inappropriate when the job done is subpar. Her concern is that she comes across grumpy, when she is really not.
So, are people like me and this woman destined to be malcontents because things on earth aren’t how they are in heaven? Quite the contrary. We should always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and His law-word as the standard we strive for. But, we need to become good at not only seeing the status quo, but having a vision for the way things can be, utilizing the gift of hope (faith in things not seen). And, if in the process challenges and disappointments occur, we should see these as gifts from God that allow us to trust in Him more, examine our faithfulness to His Word, and show forbearance and patience with those who are not quite up to speed.
From the time we are adopted by the living God, we should expect and happily anticipate opportunities to exercise obedience in the midst of life’s challenges. In other words, He loves us enough to discipline us to become more like His Son. And, even if we are not always smiling on the outside, we can be smiling on the inside knowing that we are being treated as our Heavenly Father’s true children and are not illegitimate in His sight.