Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flattering Words

Flatter: to compliment excessively and often insincerely, especially in order to win favor.

Flattery is often born out of our desire to please others or to make a good impression. It goes beyond the truth; it's not your candid, honest opinion of the person to whom you speak. You end up saying more than you can say with the truth. They might appear to be kind words but they have an ulterior motive. Flattering words often hide evil. "He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; when he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart" (Pr. 26:24-26).

Flattery does harm to the one who is being flattered, especially if it comes often or comes from someone close, or from several people. "A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin" (Pr. 26:28). If you continue to feed people with flattering words they might come to crave them or begin to believe them to be true. The words of honest friends might now be rejected in light of the flattery that has surrounded them and thereby the flatterer works his ruin. Most of us are susceptible to some forms of flattery because we want to think well of ourselves. Yet flattery is ultimately an assault on our integrity. "If you talk to a man about himself he will listen for hours!" We should be free to genuinely and truthfully praise and thank people for their gifts and services but we may not transgress the boundaries of truth.

God is listening to all of our words, including the idle words and the flattering words, and He will respond to what we have to say: "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks proud things" (Psalm 12:3).

1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases!

For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.

2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;

With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,

And the tongue that speaks proud things,

4 Who have said,

"With our tongue we will prevail;

Our lips are our own;

Who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:1-4)

The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians, "For neither at any time did we use flattering words" (1 Thess 2:5). The Gospel does not do flatter men. Instead of telling an audience how good they are, the Bible tells them how bad they are and how good Christ is! The Gospel goes on to say that when a person trust in Christ, then they too become as worthy as He―clothed in His righteousness―and when that happens, no one needs someone to tell them how good they are because they know and acknowledge that any goodness they have is due to Christ within them and Jesus gets the glory and praise.

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