Beware of Flattery
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives. Proverbs 27:21
The English word flatterer comes from a French term that means ‘to pat, smooth, or caress’. So a flatterer is someone who will pat you on the back with one hand, and in some cases, knife you in the back with the other. Flattery is something a person will say to your face but will not say behind your back. It’s insincere praise from an insincere motive. And the Bible warns us to beware of it: ‘A flattering neighbor is up to no good; he’s probably planning to take advantage of you’ (Proverbs 29:5). Flatterers will do you no good. In fact, Solomon says that in the long run you’re better off with a person who will criticize you than a person who will flatter you. ‘He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue’ (Proverbs 28:23). When it comes to flattery you should always keep these two things in mind: 1) Give praise sparingly but sincerely, with nothing but the best in mind for the other person. 2) Receive praise wisely, without taking yourself or the person giving the praise too seriously. Always remember that flattery was the weapon that Satan used to bring Adam and Eve down in the Garden of Eden: ‘You will be like God’ (Genesis 3:5). That’s why Solomon writes, ‘The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.’ So, the question you should always ask yourself when someone praises you is this: does this make me more big-headed or more big-hearted?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the guidance of Your Word about flattery. In Jesus’ Name, Amen