Selfish ambition will bring a ministry to a dead end, but nothing is more destructive than believing flattery. Nothing will take you out like striving to live up to the image flattery has spoken about you. Flattery is a hindrance to corporate discernment.
Flattery is generally identified with false praise. Flattery aims at magnifying the virtues to the exclusion of the vices. Both flattery and appreciation relate to the praising of virtues of others. Flattery is however, largely stained with falsehood and mostly aimed at achieving some selfish motive.
Appreciation is based on truth and is without any selfish motive. In practical life, flattery and appreciation overlap each other. It is impossible to assess and measure the amount of praise deserved by a person. An opinion starting as appreciation may easily drift into flattery.
We all have our own sense of excellence. In short: every person feels pride over some distinctive possession. In this way, we have to praise and affirm each other. But we do so for the sake of appreciation, which means an unprejudiced opinion, reflecting both virtues and vices.
- Don’t manipulate people with your speech by invoking emotion, using flattery, self-deprecation, or barter to get what you want.
“For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3)
“That they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.” (Proverbs 7:5)
“He who speaks flattery to his friends, Even the eyes of his children will fail.” ~ Job 17:5 [This Scripture is speaking to the mental and spiritual faculties of a man’s children “the eyes” of his children…the eye is the lamp unto the soul.]
For he flatters himself in his own eyes, when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates. ~ Psalm 36:2
To those manipulated and under the spell of flattery:
- The enemy knows our weaknesses and will take advantage every chance he gets. It’s time to become aware of this tactic and gain victory over it.
- Don’t be deceived by flattery. It is foul and destructive. It breeds pride, which leads to destruction.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (Galatians 3:1)
“My enemies cannot speak one truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their speech is filled with flattery.” ~ Psalm 5:9
He who goes about as a talebearer (gossiper) reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips. ~ Proverbs 20:19
What IS flattery?
There is a difference between encouragement and flattery. The Greek definition of flattery means “motives of self-interest”. If someone uses flattery on you, they want something. Statements like “You hold the audience captive with your music” or, “You have the greatest voice I have ever heard”. On the other hand, when a direct, clear statement is made like this: “I like the way you play the piano or guitar” they are implying that your practice and hard work in learning to play an instrument is becoming evident. That is encouragement…the kind of encouragement that will cause someone to continue the pursuit of their craft, free from the strife that comes from trying to live up to unrealistic expectations and overstatements.
The Hebrew explains the word flattery with a few more colorful illustrations. It’s a primitive root; “usually figuratively (in a mental or moral sense) to be (causatively, make) simple or (in a sinister way) delude: allure, deceive, enlarge, entice, persuade.”
The intent of flattery is to make a person simple, or just mislead and deceive them. To make someone simple is an attempt to strip them of their discernment and good judgment. There is great power in flattery and it is almost always used to control or manipulate in some way.
Psalm 78:35 tells of Israel flattering the Lord with their mouths for the purpose of deluding, alluring or trying to make simple the King of Kings: “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.”
How do I know when I have crossed the line?
Edification builds. Flattery destroys. Flattery is synthetic. Edification is authentic.
Discern the difference.
Flattery defined is: excessive and INSINCERE praise, especially that given to further one’s own interests. Flattery is only poured out to win favor. It is self-deceiving. It is also known as manipulation, which is akin to witchcraft.
Flattery starts with the tongue, appreciation starts with the heart. ~ John Paul Jackson
The definition of encouragement is to inspire with hope, courage or confidence. The Greek word for encouragement is “parakaleo” which means, “to call near, or invoke and comfort someone.” The Bible instructs us to encourage one another:
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” ~ Heb. 10:25
It also warns us about flattery:
“Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” ~ Rom.16:18.
When someone is struggling through a trial, we are to encourage with hope, but there is a tendency for many of us to not want to see anyone suffering, and our encouragement can step over the line and into flattery. That is one of the ways our flattery has the mark of control and manipulation in it.
A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net (sets a trap…”I got you now) for his feet. ~ Proverbs 29:5
In the end, people appreciate honest criticism more than flattery. ~ Proverbs 28:23
My friend Tracie Mark has a great revelation:
Engaging in flattery is clear evidence of one’s lack of faith in God’s ability to give them favor. Favor is a benefit of being in right standing with our Father. God always gives His children favor with man. Just look at the lives of Esther, Daniel, and Joseph. It required no effort on their part to receive God’s favor. They never had to resort to any form of self-effort in order to ingratiate themselves for gain or survival. People, especially Christians, can discern between a genuine compliment and one given to gain favor, as well as, words spoken with ulterior motives. The paradox is they will tend to look with disfavor, instead of favor, on someone who compliments them in general for no apparent reason.
King Solomon known as the wisest man who lived has great words for us:
It is always better to listen to a wise man who reprimands and calls your attention than to follow the fools who sing your praises. ~ Ecc 7:5
Scripture is very clear on God’s plan for the flatterer.
“The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips…” ~ Psalm 12:3
“I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.” ~ Job 32:21-22 [Is flattery worth being cut off from the blessings of God]
Jealousy is vicious and flattery is disguised hostility. ~ Dr. Edwin Louis Cole
Be careful with those who flatter you with kinds words and songs because this flattery works ruin! ~ Proverbs 26:28
Think of the people in your life. Does someone have any control over you as a result of their compliments? Ask God to forgive you for receiving this to yourself without giving it to Him, and then pray to be free. Also, pray for the one who uses flattery as manipulation to control and gain favor.
Here’s a little prophesy from our Bible (Book of Daniel) to remind you to be alert, aware, and armored:
“The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue…He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him…”
~ Daniel 11:21, 32