Smiling can completely transform our demeanor and outlook on life. But what does the Bible actually say about smiling? At first glance, you may not think there is much in Scripture about smiling specifically.
However, there are a number of verses and passages that speak to the heart issues behind our facial expressions.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible doesn’t explicitly command believers to smile. But it does tell us to have joy, practice kindness, live in peace, be patient in suffering, and put on love. All of these attitudes will likely lead to smiling.
Overall, smiling aligns with the Bible’s emphasis on pursuing inner peace, contentment, hope, and love – the fruits of faith.
In this article, we will explore the following topics around what the Bible says about smiling:
Smiling Reflects Joy and Gladness of Heart
Inner Joy Leads to Outer Gladness
As the Bible teaches, inner joy and peace lead to outer expressions of gladness. When we have the joy of the Lord in our hearts, it naturally shows on our faces through smiles and cheerful countenances (Psalm 30:11).
Just as laughter can be infectious, our smiles can brighten the lives of people around us. As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our smiles glorify God by reflecting His presence in our lives.
Studies have shown that smiling causes positive physiological changes in our bodies – it lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Smiling leads to natural pain relief, boosts immunity, and even makes us look younger!
The health benefits of smiling are numerous according to a 2022 study published on WebMD. So smiling not only blesses others but blesses us as well. As the old saying goes, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.”
We Are Called to Rejoice Always
Even when facing trials, Christians are told to have joy and rejoice always (James 1:2, Philippians 4:4). Hard times can’t take away the inner gladness we have through Christ. As we keep our minds centered on God’s promises, our faces will reflect the hope, peace and joy He gives.
Research indicates that smiling increases endorphin levels and enables us to deal with difficult situations better.
We all face sorrow at times in this fallen world, but as believers we “sorrow not as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We can smile knowing that God works all things for good (Romans 8:28) and that our joy will be complete in heaven (John 15:11).
So no matter what happens, keep a smile on your face!
Smiling as an Act of Kindness and Blessing
Smile at Friends and Family
Smiling at friends and family members is a simple yet powerful way to spread kindness and joy. Studies show that smiling is contagious and causes the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in both the giver and receiver of a smile.
This automatically lifts the mood and creates a sense of emotional closeness in relationships (Varkey Foundation, 2021). Smiling at loved ones communicates affection, appreciation and goodwill. It is an easy act of blessing others that requires minimal effort but makes a significant positive impact.
The Bible encourages believers to build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and exhorts us to “greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12). While a handshake or hug is often substituted in modern culture, a smile remains a holy, unifying expression of God’s love among His people.
Smiling at Christian brothers and sisters is a way to silently extend the blessing of God’s divine favor and Christ’s peace to them.
Smile Even at Enemies
Incredibly, the Bible instructs believers to smile and bless even enemies. Proverbs 25:21-22 (ESV) says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
By loving the unlovely through small acts like smiling, we metaphorically place burning coals on their heads that could melt their hard hearts through the fire of God’s love. Smiling at enemies demonstrates God’s grace and models Christlike conduct.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Smiling at those who wrong you is counterintuitive but subverts evil with good (Romans 12:21).
It is an act of spiritual warfare through which the Kingdom of God advances (2 Corinthians 10:4). Studies reveal smiling makes angry people less hostile (Azara et al, 2013). Science confirms the biblical truth – a gentle smile can diffuse wrath.
Smiling as an act of kindness, not merely a social courtesy, can powerfully convey God’s love. Smiling at friends and family forges emotional bonds while smiling at enemies neutralizes conflict. In both cases, smiling blesses others, fulfilling the biblical exhortation to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Cultivating Peace and Patience That Lead to Smiles
Seek Peace with Others
Seeking peace with others is a core teaching in the Bible that leads to inner tranquility and outer smiles (Romans 12:18). By loving our enemies, turning the other cheek to offense, forgiving those who wrong us, and pursuing reconciliation, we overcome evil with good (Matthew 5:39, Romans 12:14).
This aligns our hearts with God’s heart of grace and mercy, allowing joy to well up within.
Jesus modeled radical peacemaking by willingly going to the cross to make peace between sinful humanity and a holy God (Ephesians 2:14-18). When we follow His example by making peace our aim, the fruit is righteousness and smiles (James 3:18).
Peacemaking demonstrates faith in God’s sovereignty working all things for good (Romans 8:28). It is a powerful witness to the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15).
Organizations like Peace Catalyst International equip everyday believers to be peacemakers. Their research shows that when Christians pursue peace, entire communities are transformed. Smiles emerge where there was once suspicion and fear between groups.
As Scripture promises, the peacemakers are blessed and called children of God (Matthew 5:9).
Patient Endurance Builds Hope
Waiting patiently on God with hopeful expectation is another key biblical theme connected to inner peace and outer smiles (Lamentations 3:25-26). When trials come, we can choose to grumble and despair, or to persevere in hope that God will redeem the pain.
Like farmers waiting expectantly for harvest, we must show patience and faith that God is working in the difficulties (James 5:7-8).
This type of patient endurance produces proven character and christlike maturity, Paul explains (Romans 5:3-5). As we see God demonstrate His faithfulness time and again, endurance leads to overflowing hope and joy. Our hearts smile in anticipation of God’s deliverance.
The Bible urges us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” during hard times (Hebrews 10:24). By pep talking friends and praying for each other, our patient smiles stir hope.
We reassure our brothers and sisters that dawn is coming, though weeping tarries for the night (Psalm 30:5). Together, we cultivate persevering peace.
Loving Others Opens Our Hearts to Smile
Smiling is contagious. When we see someone else smiling, it can brighten our day and make us want to smile too. Smiling at others is an act of love that can spread joy. The Bible encourages us to love one another and think of others before ourselves.
When we focus on loving and caring for others, our hearts open up. We become less focused on our own problems and more attuned to the needs of people around us. Loving others helps us to be more compassionate, patient, kind, humble, and gentle (Colossians 3:12).
It moves us to show tender mercies, forgiveness, and charity (Luke 6:36). As our love abounds, the joy in our hearts naturally radiates through our smiles.
Jesus set the perfect example of loving others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and welcomed society’s outcasts. He showed deep compassion and offered encouragement wherever he went. Jesus’ loving words and actions caused those around him to feel valued, appreciated, and hopeful.
His love reflected the light of God. As we follow Jesus’ lead and sincerely love those around us – greeting people, listening patiently, helping when there’s a need – it cultivates an environment where smiles come easily and spirits are lifted.
The more we give of ourselves in love and service, the more our eyes will sparkle with gladness.
When we have the love of God in our hearts, smiles flow freely. God’s love brings joy unspeakable (1 Peter 1:8). It fills us with hope, comfort, and peace. The warmth of God’s love shines through us. The joy He imparts makes it natural to greet people with a smile. We can laugh easily.
Our eyes twinkle with mirth. The light in our souls pours out. As we stay connected to the source of love – reading God’s word, praying, and praising Him – our hearts bubble over with cheer. The radiant smiles on our faces will point others to the Lord.
The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). So as we spread smiles by loving others, we’ll be filled with vitality and zeal for life.
Jesus as Our Ultimate Joy and Reason to Smile
Jesus teaches us that true joy and happiness come from living in relationship with God. When we walk with Jesus, we can experience joy even in the midst of sorrow and difficulty. Here are some reasons why Jesus gives us ultimate joy and a reason to smile:
Jesus Promises Us Eternal Life and Heaven
Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). By believing in Christ, we can look forward to an eternity in Heaven free from sadness, pain, and death.
This amazing hope fills our hearts with inexpressible joy even amidst temporary earthly troubles.
Jesus Gives Us Purpose and Meaning
Without Christ, life can feel aimless and meaningless. But Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). When we follow Him, we discover a profound sense of purpose and meaning to life.
We can smile knowing that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.
Jesus Offers Us Inner Peace and Comfort
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” Jesus told His disciples (John 14:27). Despite external chaos, Jesus’ presence calms our hearts and reminds us that He is control. This inner comfort allows joy and smiles to shine through dark times.
Jesus Shows Us How to Love Others
Jesus demonstrated selfless, sacrificial love by dying on the cross for us. When we follow His example and show unconditional love, patience and kindness to others, we tap into a joy that cannot be taken away. Smiles come easier when our lives overflow with love.
Jesus Forgives Our Sins
Carrying the weight of guilt steals our joy. But Jesus offers us total forgiveness and spiritual cleansing through His death and resurrection. “Your sins are forgiven,” He declares (Luke 7:48). This free gift fills us with joyful relief and the uplifting freedom to smile again.
Jesus came to give us life to the fullest. He alone provides stable joy, comfort, purpose and love that allows us to smile confidently amid life’s ups and downs. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him will sustain joy and smiles through every season.
While the Bible doesn’t explicitly command us to walk around smiling all the time, Scripture does call us to have inner joy, practice kindness, cultivate peace, patiently endure, and walk in love. All of these attitudes of the heart will likely be reflected by smiling on the outside.
Jesus Christ is our ultimate source of hope and joy. As we fix our eyes on Him, abide in His love, and follow His example, our hearts will overflow with gladness that shines through even the biggest smiles.