Did you know you are speaking for or against the gospel with your face?
If there were answers to all of the questions about life and religion, wouldn’t the people who knew them be happy? As John Olesh tried to walk off his questions and doubts, he started watching the faces of everyone passing him. Maybe he’d see someone who would give him hope. Perhaps he’d even be bold enough to ask a question.
John Olesh, a young man from Yugoslavia, was in the United States working to save money to buy a farm for his family back home. A few years before, a missionary had visited and told them about the Bible and salvation. It had all seemed so strange, so wonderful.
Since then, John and his wife Anna had been in turmoil as they were strangely attracted to the missionary on the one hand, but increasingly fearful of the villagers who still looked at them askance for having unwittingly served a missionary dinner.
Sometimes John tried to forget about it. Other times he tried to reason his way to an answer about who was right. It all felt so confusing. He was so young, and yet felt so old as he wrestled through these questions that seemed to have no end.
It was in the middle of this struggle that John took that lonely walk looking for one happy face. What if he had seen just one face that looked like it had seen the light?
Before the days of TVs and secret service details, it is said that a lone traveler came to a flooded river. The bridge had been washed away, and he knew that crossing on foot would mean certain death.
A group of horsemen began to cross the raging current, and the traveler watched them battle their way across. Finally, he asked the last rider if he would take him across the river.
Without hesitation the rider agreed.
When they reached the other side, one of the other horsemen asked the traveler why he had chosen to ask the President for help.
With surprise he replied that he had no idea it was the president. He said, “All I know is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘Yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”
People are always reading our faces. What does yours say?
We start our search for what a godly countenance should be by examining God’s countenance. Of course, God the Father doesn’t have a physical face, but He uses the terminology of a countenance to teach us about Himself in a way we can understand.
God’s countenance brings:
1. Peace and Blessing
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Numbers 6:26
For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. Psalm 21:6
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Acts 2:28
3. Hope and Help
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5
For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. Psalm 44:3
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Psalm 4:6
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. Psalm 89:15
It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. Psalm 80:16
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. Psalm 90:8
HOW TO HAVE A CHRIST-LIKE FACE
So, we know that to be like God, our countenance at different times should offer peace, blessing, joy, hope, help, light, and rebuke. But how can we get our countenances to communicate these things?
We can develop a godly countenance by:
1. Looking to God
They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 34:5
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 43:5
2. Spending Time with Godly Friends
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Psalm 27:17
3. Gaining Biblical Wisdom
Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. Ecclesiastes 8:1
A person’s face doesn’t tell us the whole story (1 Samuel 16:7), but it indicates a lot – even God explained his judgment of people by pointing out their countenance (Genesis 4:5-6; Isaiah 3:9). So, if we want a godly countenance, we will have to have a godly heart.
The three things we should be doing to have a face that points people to God are to look to God in His Word and prayer, spend time with godly friends, and gain biblical wisdom by studying and obeying the Bible.
In God’s Word we have two examples of men whose faces were radiant. While our faces may not literally shine like theirs did, we can learn from their examples as we seek to shine for Christ.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.…And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him. Exodus 34:29-35
If we consider when Moses’ face shone – after he’d spent weeks with God – we see that his face shone for the same reason our countenances should reflect the light of Christ – because we spend time with Him.
We read about another man, Stephen, who was one of the godly men in the early church. He is described in Acts 6:5 as, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.”
He was such a bold and effective witness for the Lord that the enemies of Christ decided to take him out. They set up a mock trial and set up false witnesses to condemn him.
In Acts 6:15 we get a glimpse of him just before he preaches the gospel to them.
And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
If a John Olesh were to walk by you today, would he see in you someone who has found hope and answers? Even if she isn’t bold enough to stop and ask you questions, will the lady at the cash register or doctor’s office be encouraged to keep searching?
What about the person to whom you give a gospel gift? What will your face say about the message you’re sharing?
It’s such a simple thing to wear a smile. Will you reflect God’s countenance with yours today?