If I were to challenge you to quickly give me a list of biblical sins, would you include flattery? When we think of the many different kinds of sin noted in scripture, we often overlook the sin of flattery because it’s subtle and sounds positive. It’s hard not to smile when someone is flattering because you want to believe that what they’re saying is true. Yet flattery is indeed a sin. Why? Because at the heart of flattery is both deceitfulness and manipulation.
Paul warns in Romans 16:17-18, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” It’s fascinating to notice that the end result of a silver-tongued flatterer is “divisions and offenses.” In other words, they drive people apart and pit them against one another. A flatterer isn’t looking out for your best interest…they’re looking out for their own.
Proverbs 29:5 warns, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” What kind of net? The kind of net you use to trap something. Beware of someone who flatters because they are laying a trap for you. They can’t be trusted.
Consider also that flattery is a character trait of the wicked. Psalm 5:9 describes, “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue.” Ouch! That is not how I want to be described.
Instead, our speech should reflect the work of Jesus Christ in our lives. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15, we, “speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” In other words, a mature believer is one who speaks words of truth and love (not one without the other).
Finally, Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” A follower of Jesus speaks words that edify (build up) those who hear; a flatterer lays a trap to destroy the person who is listening. As Christians, flattery should have no place in our lives.
I suppose that means flattery isn’t very flattering for the person who does it!
Learn more about Pastor Erik’s ministry at www.disciplethesaints.com.