I smiled at him. It was a genuinely caring smile in my opinion. I had made a clear and certain diagnosis, as well as a treatment plan that would certainly result in cure. His condition was rapidly improving, even before the end of my shift. I made sure to check and recheck his vital signs. His blood pressure, pulse and temperature had all normalized. The next step was to review the plan of treatment with him upon his discharge and then instruct him as to what parameters should alert him to return.
‘Mr. Stephens, you will have to keep your arm elevated as this will stop the swelling and limit any spread of the infection as the lymphatics will drain and not stagnate with bacteria. Do you understand?’
‘Oh yes Dr. Johnson. You have given me perfectly clear instructions and I appreciate the extra time you have taken. It is unusual for my doctors to be so caring’
I had to move his hand in order to pat myself on the back. What a great reward, I had given myself. I smiled as he turned to go, prescriptions and instructions in firm grasp. I was so self absorbed that I failed to recognize that I had never addressed Mr. Stephen’s spiritual needs. Was he a Christian? If so, was he in need of any spiritual counsel, or encouragement.
My smile was sinister. John Piper writes in Don’t Waste Your Life that smile is ‘condemnation with a kind face.’ This is the result of when we fail to enlist Christ as the central part of any and every human encounter. It is a sinister smile, mimicking the character of Christ, but reinforcing that of the devil. That smile that says we don’t need to acknowledge Christ in this encounter, just as long as physical needs are met.
The devil loves any smile that allows us to feel good about ourselves while ignoring Jesus, no matter how noble the cause. Any smile without Jesus, is sinister.