Joel Osteen — The Smile Of God
I want to talk to you today about the smile of God. We all have had people that have done us wrong. It's easy to hold on to the hurts and be vindictive, try to pay them back. But one test we all have to pass is not just forgiving people, but being good to those that haven't been good to us.
When they betrayed you, when they left you out, it set you back, at a disadvantage. It wasn't fair, but God is a God of justice, and at some point, the tables will be turned. You'll be up and they'll be down. The real test of how high you can go is how do you treat people when you have the advantage? They hurt you, but now you're in a position of power. You were promoted and they work for you. Now they're at your mercy.
It's easy to say, "Thank you, Jesus, it's payback time. Let me show you how it feels to be mistreated, pushed down, ignored". You have every right in one sense to get even, what they did was wrong. But the way you pass the test is by showing mercy and doing good to those that have done you wrong. When God can trust you to handle favor, influence, power without being vindictive, getting even, trying to prove your point, then he can take you to new levels, and God wouldn't have put you in that situation if you couldn't handle it.
Pass the test. Be merciful, be kind. It's not about them, it's about you. God is seeing if you're ready to be promoted. Can he trust you with more favor? As long as you're going to use the influence to be vindictive, then you'll get stuck, and every person has been hurt. You can't live long without having wrongs done to you. The question is, how do you respond?
Jesus said when somebody takes your coat, give him your shirt too. When they ask you to go a mile, go two miles. Doesn't make sense, that's not fair, it's a test. Here's a key, paying people back is overrated. Being vindictive doesn't bring lasting joy. It's temporary, then it's done. But when you show mercy to people that have hurt you, when you're kind to someone that you have every right to ignore, when you help that neighbor that's always rude to you, you will feel a joy deep down in your spirit, a contentment, a satisfaction.
You know what that is? It's the smile of God, and somebody may have done you wrong, and you've taken that first step to forgive, but the last thing on your mind is being good to them. You're not going to help them, you're not going to show them favor, they put you at a disadvantage. They can fend for themselves. But there will be a time where you have the advantage, where you have the power to either push them down further, make their life more difficult, or to lift them up.
They don't deserve it. They haven't apologized. Everything in you will say, "Walk away, it's not your problem. They're reaping what they're sowing".
That's an opportunity for you to come up higher. Will you help the person that wouldn't help you? Will you go the extra mile for that coworker that left you out? Will you be kind to that relative that tried to make you look bad?
This is what Esau did in the scripture. His brother Jacob cheated him his whole life. He deceived Esau into trading his birthright for a bowl of soup. A birthright back then was extremely valuable. Years later, their father Isaac was close to death and he couldn't see well. Jacob dressed up like Esau and tricked their father into giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau as the firstborn son, the double portion blessing.
When Esau found out about it, he was so angry that Jacob had to run for his life. For years, these two brothers lived estranged from each other, and over time, God dealt with Jacob. He knew he had done wrong, and he wanted to move back to his country where he belonged, so he sent messengers with gifts to Esau, telling him that his brother wanted to meet him. Esau sent word back saying that he would meet Jacob at a certain place and he was bringing 400 men.
Jacob thought that means one thing, revenge. He's going to try to pay me back. The big moment finally arrived. Jacob could see Esau coming down the road with all of his men. I'm sure Jacob's heart was beating fast. He was about to meet the man he had deceived and cheated all this time. Esau had every right to be angry, bitter, vindictive. This was his big moment to pay his brother back. Jacob had someone take his family, including his young son Joseph, over to the side of the road so no one would be hurt.
When Esau recognized it was Jacob, he took off running toward him. Jacob braced himself, but it wasn't what he thought. Esau grabbed Jacob and hugged him, held onto him, told him how much he loved him, how much he'd missed him. He saw his family, and he went over and hugged Jacob's wife Rachel, and hugged little Joseph. Jacob was so moved at Esau's kindness, so taken aback how, instead of trying to get revenge, he was being good to them. Jacob said in Genesis 33, "What a relief it is seeing your friendly smile. It's like seeing the smile of God".
When you do good to people that don't deserve it, you're being the smile of God. When you show kindness to that co-worker that did you wrong, when you help that friend that walked away when you needed them, when you bless that relative that hurt you, you're not only being the smile of God, but God will smile back on you. You are passing the test. You are proving to God that you can be trusted.
Now, all those years that Jacob cheated Esau, Jacob had the advantage. He was up and Esau was down, but God knows how to bring justice. Years later, the tables had turned. Esau had the advantage. The only way back home for Jacob was through Esau's property. Now, Jacob was at the mercy of Esau. Somebody may have put you at a disadvantage, they didn't keep their word, they were dishonest. Like Esau, it set you back. But the time is coming where the tables will turn. You'll be up and they'll be down. You'll have the advantage.
Now, what you do with the advantage will determine whether you rise higher or whether you stay where you are. The advantage wasn't given to pay people back. The advantage is not to get even, the advantage is a test. Will you be like Esau and be good to them? Will you show them mercy and help them with what they need? Will you be the smile of God?
Esau said, "Jacob, follow me and I'll lead you back home. My men and I, we'll protect you and make sure you get there safely". Jacob said in verse 15, "You have no reason to be this kind to me". He couldn't understand why Esau was being so loving, so forgiving, so kind. You may have had people that did you wrong, you have no reason to be good to them, no reason to forgive, no reason to be kind. In fact, you can think of 100 reasons why you shouldn't be good to them. They left you with young kids to raise on your own. They played politics, lied about you, and got the promotion that you deserved. They may have the advantage now, but at some point, like with Jacob, you will have what they need, and that's when you have to dig your heels in and say, "I am not going to use this power to get revenge. I'm going to be good to them for no reason. I'm going to show them kindness even though they don't deserve it".
Here's the thing, how you treat the people that have hurt you is setting an example for your children. They will respond the way you respond. If they see you being hateful, holding a grudge, making disparaging remarks, they'll grow up doing those same things. But when they see you being merciful, showing kindness to someone you could ignore, helping the person that hurt you, not only are you showing God that you're ready to go higher, but your children will follow in your footsteps. More than your words, your actions, your example, it is making an indelible impact in their hearts. You are teaching them to be the smile of God.
Friends, life is not about being angry, getting revenge, being mean to people that have been mean to you. That's a shallow way to live. There is no satisfaction in being vindictive. You may be happy for a day or two, then the bitterness will come right back. If you want to see real joy, real fulfillment, if you want to lie down at night and sleep at peace, then be kind to people for no reason. Show mercy when you have the advantage. Lift someone up when they push you down. Be the smile of God.
"Well, Joel, it's not fair. You don't know what they've done to me". If you're basing your goodness to people on fairness, then you'll get stuck because you may be kind to somebody and they're not kind to you. Here's the key, God will make it up to you. It may not come from the people you're helping. They may not be able to pay you back, but God will cause somebody to be good to you.
Many things, you know this, that God asks us to do are not fair. Wasn't fair for Esau to welcome Jacob back with open arms and lead him to his house. If he was looking for fairness, he would've paid Jacob back, but taken his wife, his children, his flocks, his equipment. Then he would have the double portion that belonged to him in the first place. Instead, Esau trusted God to make it up to him. He trusted God to bring justice.
Are you not showing mercy because it's not fair? They hurt you, they were wrong, they lied about you? It's not about being fair. It's about passing the test. That person that walked away and now they're asking you to help them, it's not fair, it's mercy. It's being the smile of God, and when you go the extra mile to show kindness to someone for no reason, God sees that and he will reward you.
When you're being the smile of God, I can assure you God will smile back on you. When God pays you back, it will be better than anything you could've made happen. Don't be frustrated because it's not fair, God is keeping the records, and you may sow a seed over here, help someone that doesn't deserve it, they're not even grateful. That doesn't matter, you're not doing it just for them, you're doing it unto God. They don't have to say thanks. Don't expect their appreciation. Let God make it up to you, and in these times where you're doing the right thing and it's unfair, your character is being developed. You're proving to God that he can trust you.
It's easy to be good to people when they're being good to us. It's easy to show mercy when they deserve it, they were merciful to us. That doesn't take any faith. The real test is when they've betrayed you and now they need your help. When they pushed you down and now you have the power to promote them. When they've been rude to you and now they're asking you for a favor. Are you going to treat them the way they treated you, or are you going to be the smile of God?
I can imagine little Joseph standing on the side of the road, watching his father Jacob about to meet his uncle Esau. Joseph knew his father had done wrong. He'd heard the stories how he had cheated Esau and how they were about to meet. Esau came out running. When Joseph saw him hug his father and not only forgive him, but show him mercy and kindness, that seed took root in Joseph's heart. He saw his uncle being good to someone that didn't deserve it. He saw Esau being the smile of God.
Years later, this little boy Joseph had grown up and become the prime minister of Egypt, one of the most powerful people of his day. It wasn't easy getting there. As a teenager, he was betrayed by his brothers, they threw him into a pit, were going to leave him there to die. Then they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming by, and they decided instead to sell him as a slave to a man named Potiphar.
Wasn't fair, Joseph didn't understand it, but he kept being his best. Potiphar's wife falsely accused him. He was put in prison. All this time, Joseph kept passing the test, doing the right thing when it was hard, proving to God that he could trust him. One day, years later, his brothers showed up at the palace looking for food, the same brothers that had thrown him into the pit, the same ones that had made his life miserable. They didn't recognize Joseph, they had no idea he was still alive, but Joseph recognized them. This was his big chance to pay them back, his chance to get even. The tables had turned.
Instead of Joseph being in the pit with no power at the mercy of his brothers, now his brothers are in the pit, so to speak, at the mercy of Joseph. They need what he has. There's a famine in the land, and they've traveled a great distance looking for food. Joseph is in charge of the food supply, and when Joseph looked at them, he was tempted to say, "Take them away, put them in prison". He could feel for a moment the anger, the bitterness rising up, saying, "Pay them back". Then his mind flashed back to that time when he was a little boy, seeing his uncle Esau forgiving his father, being kind to Jacob even though he had done him great wrong.
Joseph looked at his brothers and thought, "I'm not going to treat you the way you've treated me. I'm going to do what my uncle did, I'm going to be good to you. I'm going to show you kindness that you don't deserve. I'm going to be the smile of God". Joseph had the advantage, but he didn't use his power to get even, he used his power to be good to them.
He could've said, "It's not fair, they have taken away years of my life. Why should I be kind to them"? They threw me into a pit. Why should I give them food? They sold me into slavery". If he was looking for fairness, he'd have never passed the test, and if he was counting on his brothers to pay him back, he would've sent them to prison because they couldn't do it.
People can't undo every wrong they've done to you. They can't give you back the years they hurt you, the years they put you at a disadvantage. Here's the beauty, God can. He said in the book of Joel, "I will restore the years that have been stolen," and too often, we're looking at what people can't do, we should be looking at what God can do.
During those 13 years, Joseph proved he could be trusted. He was trusted in Potiphar's house. When Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him, Joseph stayed on the high road. He was trusted in the prison. Instead of sitting around bitter, he helped the butler get out. When his brothers stood in front of him, God knew he could trust Joseph to not be vindictive. With those brothers right there, Joseph was so overcome with emotion, he ran out of the room and wept and wept, so loud that people all through the palace could hear him.
Having favor doesn't mean you won't feel pain. Being blessed doesn't mean you won't have hurts. Wasn't easy for Joseph all those years being betrayed. He longed to see his family, there were many sleepless nights, times he felt forgotten, like his dream would never come to pass. Seeing his brothers was overwhelming. When he finally revealed to them who he really was, they were not only speechless, they were terrified. They knew their life was in his hands.
Joseph looked at them and said, "Am I God? Is it my job to punish you? Don't be afraid of me, I'm going to take care of you, and nourish you and your children". The scripture says he spoke kindly to them, reassuring them.
Notice he's going to take care of the people that threw him into the pit. He's going to nourish the brothers that messed up his life. He's going to look after their children. That doesn't make sense. But when you make this decision to be good to the people that have done you wrong, to not use the influence, the power, the advantage to get even, but instead, like Joseph, you bless those that have hurt you, when God can trust you, there's no limit to how high he will take you.
Are you letting what somebody did to you keep you from going to the next level? Are you trying to pay them back, waiting till you get the advantage, then you're going to show them? You're going to be waiting for a long time. God won't promote us if we're going to be revengeful. Let God fight your battles. Let God be your vindicator. Be a Joseph and be good to those that have betrayed you. Show mercy to those that have lied about you. Be kind to that relative that tried to make you look bad.
In the scripture, there was a captain in the Syrian army named Naaman. He was a very influential, well-respected man, but he had leprosy. In one of the battles with Israel, he captured a young lady and brought her back as a maid. You can imagine how her life was turned upside down. She was taken from her family, couldn't see her friends, left everything that was familiar to her. Now, she was in a foreign country, barely spoke the language. Her hopes and dreams and goals all had to be put on hold because of this one man, Naaman.
It was his leadership that brought the trouble. You would think she would be the last person he was concerned about. But every night when Naaman took off his armor, she could see how the leprosy was eating away his flesh. She couldn've thought, "Too bad for you, I hope you do die. You've messed up my life". She could've hated him, lived bitter, revengeful, but she understood this principle. She said, "Sir, there's a prophet back at home in Israel where I'm from. If you'll go see him, he'll pray for you and you'll get healed".
Naaman took the step of faith, went to see the prophet, and he was perfectly well all because a young lady showed kindness to someone that had done her wrong. She was being the smile of God.
"Well, Joel, I'm not going to help my enemy, that doesn't make sense". When you withhold good that you can do for others, God will withhold the good he has for you. But too often we think, "If they wouldn't have hurt me, then I would help them. If they hadn't have made me look bad in that business meeting, then I'd show them some shortcuts". But when you sow a seed of kindness, a seed of forgiveness, a seed of being good to somebody that's done you wrong, you are showing God that he can trust you. Your character is coming up higher, that's when God will release more favor in your own life.
I talked to a gentleman recently, he's very well-known. For over 20 years, he had been estranged from all of his brothers and sisters. They had not spoken or had any kind of contact. They would see him out in the public eye, he has a lot of success and notoriety. But there were things these siblings didn't see eye to eye on. Their relationship with him was non-existent.
One day, their 80-year-old mother was hit by a car, rushed to the hospital in a coma. All of the siblings, including this man, flew in from different parts of the country and hurried up to the hospital. After they saw their mother, they gathered in a room. He said to his siblings, "It's time to let it go. Let's bury all the hurts, the misunderstandings, the harsh words, and let's start afresh and anew".
They all hugged and wept as their mother laid next door in a coma. All, that is, except one brother. He looked at this man, said, "I can't do it, I can't forgive". They walked away. His brother went home and he watches us on television. The next morning, my message came on, it was all about not holding a grudge, letting things go. He knew that was God speaking to him. He went back the next day and told his brother, "I've changed my mind, I forgive you". They hugged, and now all their relationships have been restored.
But what's interesting is the mother never did wake up from the coma. She passed a couple months later. The man told me, "I think God kept my mother alive. I think he didn't take her instantly in that accident just so all of us siblings could be restored".
Maybe God's having you hear this so that you can make things right, so that you can show mercy to somebody that doesn't deserve it. It's easy to hold a grudge, try to pay them back, make their life miserable. All that's doing is holding you back. Why don't you be a Joseph? Why don't you be an Esau and be good to someone that hasn't been good to you? Why don't you show kindness that they don't deserve? Why don't you be the smile of God?
The mercy you show others is the mercy people are going to show you. We all make mistakes. At some point, we're all Joseph. At another point, we're all his brothers. We need forgiveness, and when you're the smile of God, God will make sure people will always smile back on you, and if you'll do this, I believe and declare because God can trust you, like Joseph, he's going to give you more influence, more favor, more opportunity. You're going to have better relationships, rise higher, and reach the fullness of your destiny in Jesus's name.