We live in a flattery-filled society — people always saying nice things that don’t really reflect the thoughts of their heart. You know — compliments that people really don’t mean. “That sure is a wonderful dress” OR “You’re doing a wonderful job” OR “It’s always so great to see you”. Basically speaking, flattery is really a complimentary statement that clouds one’s true sentiments or flatterers true condition. It is insincere. It is hypocritical. It is dissimulatory. It is impure. It is .. . . cursed. The title, shown above, has been a common saying for years among men. Have you ever wondered what God has to say about flattery? First, let’s consider what flattery is from a direct definition-based standpoint. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “insincere or excessive praise.” That’s good. It gives us some clarity. Strong’s definitions include: 1) to eulogize; 2) to address by an additional name (flattering titles); 3) to be smooth (or smooth-tongued); 4) to delude and 5) something that tends to coax (blandishment).
Let’s take a closer look at what some of the Strong’s terms refer to. It’ll help us understand this matter.
“To eulogize” means “to speak or write in high praise of”. Think of a funeral. The “eulogy” is the time where the speaker (if politically correct) will say all of the nice things he/she can about the deceased party (even if nobody thought the deceased party was worthy of such compliments).
“To address by an additional name” is the definition applied in Job to addressing people with “flattering titles”. Someone sees you and calls you by a title instead of by your name — as a supposed means of compliment when they actually don’t think of you in conjunction with the title that they’re addressing you by. For example, the Pharisees and others, attempting to deceive Jesus with a question, would first approach him with complimentary words (e.g., Good Master, we know that thou teachest the way of God in truth….) when their goal the entire time was to catch Him in His words. They didn’t think of Him as a Good Master at all. If you address someone by a title, you had better mean it from the bottom of your heart.
“Smooth-tongued” refers to folks who speak in such a way that they’re able to influence and coax by their words, mannerisms, etc. — no truth presented, just mannerisms, methods and . . . carefulness — with a selfish and sinful goal in mind. Example? Look at how the serpent approached Eve in Genesis. This is an excellent example of “smooth talking”. We need the discernment of God to help us overcome smooth talking — which is marked by false pretenses. Many times, we don’t recognize falsehood until we see the situation/matter for what it really is.
The word “delude” is akin to the words “delusion” and, hence, “illusion”. An illusion is something we see that’s not there. A delusion is something we believe that’s not true. To delude someone is to “mislead the mind or judgment of”. You can see this in the comments on “smooth-tongued” also. False witness, slander, backbiting and other sins of the tongue (to be dealt with in another upcoming message) are also examples of deluding (for the purpose of “striking” a person, group of persons or purpose. In other words, a “deluder” is one who contributes to someone’s false conceptions and ill-begotten convictions.
Coaxing is “persuading/manipulating someone gently [e.g., with compliments or false supportive behavior] by means of great perseverance and usually with considerable effort toward a desired state or activity”. This is also the method referred to in 1 Timothy 4 where Paul speaks of people “giving heed to seducing spirits”. It’s extremely important for us to endure temptation and keep the word of God to overcome this means of attack.
Definitions enhance our ability to communicate, but the word of God, according to Jeremiah, is the hammer that breaks the rock into pieces. It is the element that builds us up in Christ. Consider the following passages of scripture and the light that they shed on flattery:
- (Job 17:5) He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.
- (Job 32:21-22) Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
- (Psalms 5:9) For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
- (Psalms 12:2-3) They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
- (Proverbs 6:23-24) For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.
- (Proverbs 7:21-23) With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.
- (Proverbs 20:19) He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
- (Proverbs 26:28) A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
- (Proverbs 28:23) He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
(Proverbs 29:5) A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.
- (Daniel 11:32) And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
- (1 Thessalonians 2:4-5) But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:
Do you have a compliment for someone? Do you mean it in your heart? Do you have an ulterior motive for providing support or giving that compliment? Have you been the recipient of a lot of compliments? If so, do you sense the “inflation” of the heart/ego that can result from such communication (the net has been spread)? Are you given to flattery? Have you been subjected to flattery? Are you a perpetuator of flattery? Have you been overcome by flattery?
When you tell the pastor that you enjoyed the message, why did you do it? Do you spend as much (or more) time praying for people that you compliment? Flattery is dangerous. When we receive it, we don’t always know how to handle it. When we give it, we don’t always consider the possible effects. Some people live (and kill) by it, blinding the recipients to the forthcoming blow. Take flattery away and there are several things that we wouldn’t even consider doing. Flattery, many times, paves the way for the unthinkable.
Does this type of “word” contribute to paranoia? Not if you handle it soberly. What wicked people call paranoia, God calls soberness and awareness. Truthfully, how many of you knew these things about flattery? If you’ve been enlightened, take the time to praise God for His word. It’s just as important to be aware of those who praise you as much as those who attack you. If mishandled, both situation could lead you to the same place.
Be strong in the Lord and remember . . . flattery will get you nowhere, whether you are the giver or the receiver of such. Until next week, keep the word and be blessed!