The Flattering Tongue (#2)

“These (ungodly) people flatter others for the sake of gaining an advantage.” Jude 1:16 NASB

So flattery is a lie covered in a bed of flowery words, a form of dishonest communication used to gain favor.  Sometimes it’s a material favor, sometimes it’s something intangible – like acceptance.  Don’t confuse flattery with sincere compliments or encouragement given to others.  The difference is that you do it on purpose (though perhaps without thinking about it) to gain something.  When you flatter, your words are MANIPULATIVE.

I am thinking – Who do I flatter and why?

Salespeople, front desk clerks, waitresses – when I want them to be nicer than normal to me, make an exception, take my return, give me a bargain, etc.  Maybe that’s just called being nice and kind and having good manners…  But sometimes I do it just because I want something.  I can work on being sincere and thoughtful without being manipulative.

I also tend to say nice things to people whom I want to like me.  I think that’s ok, if they’re true.  But if I’m making stuff up so I can seem nice and complimentary – that’s being manipulative again.  Tricky.

This was a provocative thought, “Engaging in flattery is clear evidence of one’s lack of faith in God’s ability to give him favor with other people… children of the Most High God never had to resort to any form of self-effort in order to ingratiate themselves for gain or survival.” 

So favor with others, especially important others who have some control over my destiny and survival, is granted by God – not achieved by my manipulation.  And the best Biblical examples of this truth are Esther, Daniel and his friends, and Joseph.

Have you ever engaged in flattery in order to obtain something?  Did you receive it or did it backfire?

Are you susceptible to the flattery and manipulation of others?

“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

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues

4 thoughts on “The Flattering Tongue (#2)

  1. This is a really tough one. I think I often try to follow the “you catch more flies with honey” tactic when I’m in a tricky situation. Probably there’s a thin line between some of that and flattery. There are countless times in my work around Africa when I’ve been part of standing up and offering praise to previous speakers because it’s customary to do so. How do you follow these customs, be polite in difficult circumstances, etc. and keep from flattery? You mentioned Esther’s story, and I had to look it up. Esther showed respect to the king, and she was kind, but she didn’t butter him up or stretch the truth. She also let God work to reveal to the king Mordecai’s good works and Haman’s plottng. Challenging!

    1. Emily, cultural flattery is another great challenge! Some languages and cultures seem to exist on another level of flowery words (Arabic being one of them!) Not very easy to figure out the correct response…

  2. This one is a little challenging. I couldn’t think of specific times that I’d done it but will be more aware of why I say what I say. Also wondered if it’s as much a sin to give into flattery. Any thoughts?

    1. Not sure if giving in to it is a sin or not, but it certainly may result in unwise decisions… How about King Herod in Acts 12:20-23? The people called him a god and he loved it – and God struck him dead (eaten by worms!) for not giving God glory when it was due. That’s a flattery error of a whole different magnitude.


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