When Hitler sought to placate Austrian minister Kurt von Schuschnigg by complimenting and praising him publicly, a disgusted Winston Churchill muttered, “When a snake wants to eat his victims, he first covers them in saliva.”
The Bible calls Hitler’s use of insincere praise flattery—words said and actions done to gain favor with others and advantage over them. Though some write very favorably of flattery, the Bible does not speak of it in favorable terms. In fact, it says that flattery is deceitful.
In Psalm 12, David lamented the deceitfulness of flattery. He asked God for help because he noticed a serious rip in the moral fabric of his own community. One of the indicators of the tear was that people were using flattery to lie to and deceive one another. With the intentions of gaining favor and an advantage with their neighbors, they were using beautiful words of praise and encouragement to cover up the ugly intentions (attacks and traps) of their hearts (Psalm 55:20-21; Jeremiah 9:8).
David was so disturbed by this deception that he asked God to cut off or silence all flattering lips (Psalm 12:2). He asked God to intervene because he knew the results of this type of deception: deep relational hurt and ruined relationships (Proverbs 26:28, 29:5).
Instead of covering people with the saliva of flattery, we should imitate Job’s actions (Job 32:21-22). Let’s embrace honesty and cover others in the fragrance of gracious truth, even if that means wounding friends to refine their character (Proverbs 27:6). We’re servants of Christ, and we must seek His approval over the approval of men.
May we please God, who will one day evaluate the purity and sincerity of our hearts, words, and actions.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 11:1-13
How is flattery a form of lying and deception? What are some things you can do to focus more on the approval of God versus the approval of people?
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”