Jesus says: Your smile is missing

Once upon a time when I was single, and I developed quite an extensive check list in my mind of things I was looking for in a future spouse.

The basic things I desired were pretty simple and standard.  She had to love the Lord, be smart, funny, have a decent job, and above all, she had to be good looking (because I just couldn't stomach the idea of presenting an ugly grandchild to my parents one day!)  

But the specifics were pretty specific.  In fact, some of my friends thought I was being too picky about some of the things I wanted in a wife.  They were pretty sure I would never find one!

Among those specific things I was looking for in my future wife was that she was a woman that enjoyed smiling, and that she also have pretty and expressive eyes that were full of life.  I kid you not when I say that there are many girls out there that made my short list and did not get very far with me when it came to a relationship because they were lacking in this area.

When some girls smiled, I noticed they did not show their teeth because they smiled with their lips clamped together.  Or, there was this one girl in which the white of her eyes were frequently red.  I don't know if she had a medical condition or if she was doing drugs (I didn't stick around long enough to find out).  Either way, these things tended to turn me off quite quickly once I noticed them.

I personally don't think any of that sounds too nit-picky, do you?

After all, as human beings we place a great deal of value on our eyes and our teeth when it comes to ourselves.  We like to have both of our eyes and all of our teeth.  We cherish the ability to see clearly and to chew all of our food.

Eyes and teeth are so important to us that Moses even used these two parts of our body as a means of explaining how we are to go about measuring and exacting justice under the Law of God.  "Eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" sorta stuff.  If somebody is guilty of plucking your eye out, justice is to be found in plucking their eye out.  The consequences of your actions are to be paid back in proportion to the crime you have committed, or had committed against you.  Justice is all about making things even.

But as Martin Luther King, Jr so aptly pointed out in the teaching of Jesus on this matter, the problem with "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" justice is that eventually the whole world ends up blind, and without much of a smile.

So, when somebody wrongs us, instead of seeking justice, and pursuing the desire to get even, Jesus says we start thinking about life beyond justice:
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you." ~ Matthew 5:38-42 (NASB)
Because of my prior profession, I had the opportunity to go to court many times.  And in court I noticed that there isn't a lot of smiling that goes on (such is a great reason to never become a lawyer).  And why should there be?  Everybody is busy plucking out eyes and teeth.  Everybody is busy defending or asserting their rights.  There is no joy in such occasions.

But for the person who has their rights violated, yet decides to not pursue justice, there is a great joy that can be found.

It's the type of joy that when somebody slaps you on one cheek, you are able to offer them the other. It's the type of joy that if somebody tries to sue you and take your shirt, you are able to give them your coat also.  It's the type of joy that if somebody forces you to go one mile, you are able to offer them a second mile.  And, it's the type of joy that if somebody wants to borrow from you, you find it's not such a big deal if they don't pay you back.

The Christian doesn't need to seek justice for themselves.  They don't need to defend their rights... even those granted by the U.S. Constitution.  Instead of getting caught up in the endless cycle to seek justice for themselves, they realize they serve a King who on a cross paid for all the justice that this world could ever imagine and hope for.

Knowing such things, we can do the aforementioned stuff that Jesus spoke about because we've discovered an inner joy deposited deep within our hearts from the Holy Spirit.  And, that joy from the Lord becomes our strength, and the type of stuff that makes us truly into saints.  It liberates us to find a freedom that no constitution or judge can ever grant us.

And. it lets us keep our smiles.

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