Ambassadors: The Value of a Smile

(This is the third in a series of posts drawing analogies between experiences that Ambassador Joseph Grew shared about in his book Ten Years in Japan and practical aspects of being an ambassador for Jesus Christ.)

Ambassador Grew wrote in his book (which is an extract from his diary) that Mrs. Woodrow Wilson visited with he and his wife Alice on October 24, 1932. The three of them spent a number of hours together. He noted that Mrs. Wilson said something important during their visit: “that a smile goes a long way in Japan.”

Ambassador Grew noted that he had also seen how important it was to smile and the impact that a smile can have. He had specifically noticed the impact his wife had when she went out for exercise and smiled at the many people she came in contact with.

I was struck by the realization that the wife of the Ambassador (who was not even the official representative) was positively representing her country while in a foreign land simply by smiling at people.

Why is a smile important for an ambassador? And what does the smile represent? I believe the smile of an ambassador represents several important things.

First, if you see someone from another country always smiling, it makes you want to learn more about the country they are from. If the country you are living in is full of depressed and angry people (yourself included), and everyone from a neighboring country that you’ve ever met are living lives overflowing with joy and peace, you will likely have a strong desire to visit (or move to) the other nation so you, too, can be joyful.

Jesus has left us with His joy and peace, and our hearts should be full!
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”
John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Second, when a person or representative from another country smiles, it projects an acceptance of you. When soldiers from two nations meet on a field of battle, they do not share smiles; you would see looks of grim determination on their faces – they are seeking to harm each other. And yet those same soldiers, if they are seeking to build relationships with the citizens of a foreign country, will smile and wave at the people they come in contact with. In such cases, the smile is a sign of good will.

Jesus specifically encouraged His followers to salute more than just friends and relatives.
Matthew 5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

The Greek word translated “salute” is aspazomai, and Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary gives much greater meeting to the word: “To salute one, greet, bid welcome, wish well to; to receive joyfully. Used of those who greet one whom they meet in the way; a salutation was made not merely by a slight gesture and a few words, but generally by embracing and kissing, a journey was retarded frequently by saluting.”

Are we properly representing our heavenly kingdom by “saluting” (which would at least involve a friendly smile) those we come in contact with?

In Christ,

4 thoughts on “Ambassadors: The Value of a Smile”

  1. Thank you, Christopher, for this wonderful post. I am a person that smiles at every single person I come across. Most people smile back, but some people look at me puzzled. I will even see them look back at me after I pass by them. It’s like they are wondering why I am so happy. Mostly, I will be humming or singing a song as well. It’s funny the looks I get, but I have something to smile about. I have that unspeakable joy that I want everyone else to have. 🙂

    Thank you for encouraging others to do the same.

  2. I am a born-again Christian and have worked in a grocery store for 8+ years. I strongly agree that a smile goes a VERY long ways.

    Most of us can reflect back on people in the past and how their lives have touched ours. We remember maybe one little sentence they said to us that made a difference. Or a hug. Or just eye contact. Or reaching over and holding our hand. Or handing us a “I care about you” note.

    Many, many people out there have no smiles. Many people out there are grumpy. Unhappy. Mad at their kids.

    Those, my friends, are the people that need the smiles the most. The ones who have none to give. No, maybe they won’t reciprocate it. But we never know the power, the influence our smile can make in the life of another.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Amy F.

  3. Thank you, Christopher, for “The Value of a Smile”. My husband and I had many opportunities to exchange smiles with people while at the hospital with Santi. The hospital is a place full of hurting and grieving people…and everyone is in an extreme hurry.

    One morning while waiting for the elevator to take us to the 10th floor, a woman met our gaze while she was mopping. She completely lit up, smiled, and gave us a hearty “Good Moh-nin!” She made our day. We heartily replied by telling her the Lord made it, didn’t He? She laughed nodding, and kept mopping and by the time the whole exchange took place, our elevator was ready to take us away. And we never saw her again.

    I “practiced” on people after that. I noted how many people returned my smile after I smiled…100% smiled back. It only takes a second to shine for the Lord.

    “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance…” Prov. 15:13

    Keep writing!
    Ana H.

Comments are closed.