Ecclesiastes 8:1 begins by asking the question, “who is like the wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing?” A wise person is the person who has learned to fear the Lord. Two things happen when a person turns to God. 28 new lookFirst, this wisdom “makes his face shine.” The second thing is “the hardness of his face is changed.” Phil Ryken explains, “Ignorance and lack of culture reveal themselves in coarseness and impudence. When wisdom fills the heart, the face reflects a gentle and congenial look which inspires confidence in others and wins friends.” He goes on, “It is strange but true: godly wisdom makes a difference in the way people look. People who live without God in the world often show the proud demeanor or stern expression that comes from a heart hardened by sin—what the Preacher called ‘hardness of … face.’ But the wisdom of the gospel turns the frown of sin into the smile of grace. Thus the Preacher contrasts the face of a hardened sinner with ‘the wise man who is visibly gracious in his demeanor, and whose gentleness is obvious in his facial expression.’ In saying this, he is not just telling us to ‘put on a happy face.’ …This is more than a metaphor. True wisdom brings a joy to life that changes everything, including people’s appearance.”

In 2008 a noted atheist wrote an article for the Times entitled, “Why Africa Needs God.” He made it clear that he personally did not believe in God. But the differences he had personally observed across the entire continent between places that had Christians and places that didn’t were undeniable. He wrote, “The Christians were different. Their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world.… Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes.”

Ryken concludes his explanation by saying, “Biblical wisdom brings personal transformation. It makes a difference in our witness, showing people the joy of knowing Christ. It also makes a difference in our relationships. Instead of going around grumpy all the time (which is tempting for all of us), wise people have an inner joy that radiates out to other people.” I have seen this joy in the faces of many believers. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ our faces should shine with the peace, joy, grace and contentment that can only come from knowing and spending time with Jesus. In Numbers 6:24-26 Moses praid this prayer for God’s people: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”