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That Famous Smile

The prospect of the righteous is joy. Proverbs 10:28

After my wife and I had the privilege of visiting the Louvre in Paris, I called our eleven-year-old granddaughter Addie on the phone. When I mentioned seeing da Vinci’s famous painting Mona Lisa, Addie asked, “Is she smiling?”

Isn’t that the big question surrounding this painting? More than 600 years after Leonardo captured this subject in oil, we still don’t know if the lady was smiling or not. Though enraptured by the painting’s beauty, we are unsure about Mona Lisa’s demeanor.

The “smile” is part of the intrigue of the painting. But how important is this anyway? Is smiling something the Bible mentions? In reality, the word appears less than five times in Scripture, and never as something we are told to do. However, the Bible does suggest for us an attitude that leads to smiles—and that is the word joy. Nearly 250 times we read about joy: “My heart leaps for joy,” David says as he thinks about the Lord (Ps. 28:7). We are to “sing joyfully to the Lord” (Ps. 33:1); God’s statutes are “the joy of [our] heart” (119:111); and we are “filled with joy” because “the Lord has done great things for us” (126:3).

Clearly, the joy God provides through everything He has done for us can bring a smile to our face.

You are a good Father, dear God, and You do make us smile. You provide joy that is beyond what anything the world can offer. Help us show that joy to others by our countenance.

Hope in the heart puts a smile on the face.


In addition to the Psalms, the New Testament uses joy many times. In Paul’s letters, he spoke often of both his joy and the joy we can experience. In the book of Philippians the apostle mentioned joy to his friends at the church of Philippi six times in only four chapters. As he instructed them, Paul prayed for them with joy (1:4), spoke of the joy of spiritual development (1:25), called on them to give him joy through their unity (2:2), described his hardships in the gospel as a joy to share with them (2:17), and asked that their joy would likewise be shared with him (2:18). In sending helpers to them for their growth in Christ, Paul asked that those mutual friends be received with joy (2:29) and referred to the Philippians themselves as his “joy and crown” (4:1).

It’s interesting to note the repeated emphasis on a joy that is relational. How often are relationships a source of joy for you?

Bill Crowder

By |2017-10-18T16:14:37-04:00November 4th, 2017|
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