What makes you smile? It’s a simple question, but one that reveals something about our heart. Smiles can be triggered by just about anything. The things that make you smile could be certain activities, accomplishments, or people. Grandkids always make me smile (even when they’re being naughty). An excellent steak is sure to bring a look of satisfaction to my face. And I can’t help but have a mile-wide grin when I’m able to take that first spring-time ride on my motorcycle. There is a word used in our English Bibles which means “those things that make us smile.” That word is “delight”. And, unless you’re trying really hard you can’t even say “delight” without smiling.
Let’s consider two verses as we think about what makes us smile. In recounting that moment in time when humankind chose self instead of God we read, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, NASB95) That forbidden fruit and the thought of its benefits caused Adam and Eve to smile. It looked good, it was a delight to look at, and it was desirable. Nothing has really changed, whatever “forbidden fruit” the world and the devil dangles in front of our noses always looks delightful and beneficial. In other words, it tends to make us smile at the very thought of having it.
The second verse is found in Psalms. The Psalmist writes, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1–3, NASB95) Interesting how these two passages intersect on so many levels. Notice, of course, that the person who is truly blessed by God is delighted in, smiles about, and finds joy in the law of the LORD.
Law, for most of us, is one of those necessary evils that we put up with. Sure, the purpose of the law is to provide some semblance of order to the human experience. For instance, it’s safer for all of us if everyone obeys the traffic laws, but it’s seldom, if ever, something to smile about. We rarely rejoice when new laws are enacted. After all, they feel restrictive instead of liberating. And reading the Old Testament law as recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy can seem rather dry and dusty instead of delightful. So, how do we bridge the gap between our experience and God’s word as expressed in Psalms 1?
Without getting into a lengthy theological discussion on what the Hebrew word for law, “Torah”, encompasses let’s instead lean on Jesus’ teaching. One day at lunch my boss at that time, who labeled himself as a “strident atheist”, asked, “Okay Dale, since you are a Christian, recite the Ten Commandments for me.” His point was that most folks that go to church or call themselves Christian can’t recite those very basic and foundational tenets. Of course, it was a trap. My response took him by surprise, “I prefer the two commandments Jesus taught over the ten – thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And thou shalt love your neighbor as yourselves. The whole of the law and prophets are contained in these two commandments.” Let’s just say that the conversation quickly moved in a different direction. The point is this, God’s law is written in the language of love. God didn’t restrict Adam and Eve’s access to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to test them, but because He loved them. It is only when we begin to see the love language inherent in God’s instruction that we can begin to delight in it. I don’t know about you, but knowing God loves me puts a smile on my face.