We're told not to judge a book by its cover, but you can sure tell a lot by the look upon a persons face. It can be just about any emotion, including, sadness, anger, worry, fear, anxiety, doubt, happiness or joy. The face is usually an indicator of what is going on within their heart, and it is how we usually view and determine a persons countenance. Many a poker player has won or lost their stack of chips by allowing their facial countenance to show through, thereby allowing others to read what they possess in the way of cards.
The same thing holds true for us as Christian men and women - we too, can be read like a poker player, showing what we really possess, despite what we claim to have. Truth be told, we can only shine if God's light is within us.
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV)
When I think of this truth, I can't help but think about one particular story contained within the Bible. In the Book of Acts, we read about Stephen - a Christian believer who became the first person martyred for the Christian faith. Luke gives us valuable information about Stephens character, and Christian walk, when he describes Stephen as being full of the Spirit and wisdom in Acts 6:3; as being full of faith and the Holy Spirit in verse 5, and he is finally described as, full of God's grace and power, in verse 8.
Stephen had been speaking boldly about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he was doing Great signs and wonders. His actions were becoming offensive to the pharisaical scribes, and elders, so they seized him, made false accusations and brought him to the council to be interrogated and judged. But Stephen was not troubled, and his countenance gave testimony to this fact. As they all looked upon Stephen, this is what they saw.
And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. Acts 6:15 (NKJV)
When asked as to whether the accusations were true, Stephen sidestepped the answer and instead seized the opportunity to began to give those in attendance an accurate history lesson, detailing how the Jewish people had a track pattern of being prideful and stiff-necked - unwilling to submit to God's anointed. Soon these proud could no longer stand the truth and began to show their true heart. We see in Acts 7:54 how this affected them.
When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. Acts 7:54 (NKJV)
We see a valuable truth in this story - one continuing to this very day. There will be two types of men who will hear the Gospel message - those who receive it, and those who rebuke it.
One will be full of himself - looking to follow his own personal desires and who makes God in the image of man. This one will not be able to stand the truth when it opposes his choices, and the result will be he will become antagonistic and aggressive in defending his position. Perhaps, he will respond just as these men did - by gnashing his teeth in disgust.
The other type of person will be like Stephen - he will welcome this life-giving message, and he will receive it gladly into his heart. The result will be life changing. His countenance will be transformed as his heart is regenerated, and he will shine brightly before all who see him. His face will be like an angel.
Living life does not have to be a gamble - it can be lived wisely and with security for those who seek the Lords wisdom (See James 1:5).
Q: What does this mean to us today?
A: It means we can determine the hand we are holding in life. We can know with certainty we will be holding a winning hand. We can either be gnashing our teeth with a restless spirit, or we can have the peace of God and the appearance of an angel. In the short term, it will affect our attitude and our faith when we are confronted with tests and trials. In the long term, it will affect where we spend eternity.
STUDY QUESTION: What did the face of Stephen reveal about his character as recorded in Acts 6:15? What did the face of those who came against Stephen reveal about their character and spirit as recorded in Acts 7:54?
PERSONAL INVENTORY: If your life was the book, and your face the cover, what would the countenance of your face reflect; the face of an angel, or one of gnashing teeth?
APPLICATION: Seek the peace of God continually. Think upon the things of God, and the Word of God. Let Gods light shine through you onto others.