Few Christians know that the sin of flattery is made very prominent in the Word of God. Flattering lips are the expression of the corrupt and deceitful heart of man. Of the wicked it is written, "They flatter with their lips" (Psalm 5:9). It is at best a form of lying-- "they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues" (Psalm 78:36).
The Book of Proverbs has repeated reference to flattery. "A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5) Because flattering words feed the pride of man, flattery generally produces that pride and self-exaltation which God is bound to deal with in His children. Flattery may succeed for a time, but ultimately its vile and nauseating character will come to light. "He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue" (Proverbs 28:23). Therefore the warning, "meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips," (Proverbs 20:19) and more than that, "a flattering mouth worketh ruin" (Prov 26:28).
Furthermore we read that flattery will be one of the leading sins of the Last Days and a prominent characteristic of the apostates. Of this the Twelve Psalm speaks prophetically. "Help Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail among the children of men." "Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things..." (Psalms 12:1-3. How well Elihu spoke to Job when he said, "neither let me give flattering titles unto man" (Job 32:21). The coming "Man of Sin" will use flatteries first, and like Antiochus Epiphanies obtains the kingdom by flatteries. (See Daniel 11:21, 34)
But finally all flattery will be dealt with by the Lord for it is written, "The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things" (Psalm 12:3).
Flattering lips are Satan's most subtle poison. They speak in the world of the "poison pen," meaning thereby the pen that spreads false reports. The flattering pen is a thousand times worse. The world which lieth in the Wicked one loves flattery, seeks it, enjoys it. But a child of God, if walking in the Spirit, hates and despiseth all flatteries and turns from them with disgust. To use flattery is all-together unworthy of a Christian. In that beautiful portrayal of the model servant, serving incessantly and in humility, we read the great Apostle's confession-- "For neither at any time used we flattering words," (1Thess 2:5).
The greatest harm which can be done to a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is to flatter him and praise him to his face. Long ago we have recognized this danger and many a letter containing flattering words was thrown into the waste basket unread and unanswered. The usefulness of a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ depends on his humility; as soon as he thinks of himself as a great man, and is puffed up, the Spirit is grieved and the real power of his ministry will be gone. And how many have fallen into this snare! We have seen some sad examples. We have watched the downfall of some through flattering lips. To acknowledge blessing received through ministry, to thank the Lord for His grace and for His gifts, that is another matter entirely. To tell an evangelist (as it was recently done) that he was as great as the Apostle Paul, is as ridiculous as it is evil. But this boasting in men is the leading feature of our Laodicean days. One who walks in Philadelphian separation, owns One and exalts One above everything else, and confesseth only his weakness and is content to be nothing, nor does he seek the applause of others. (Revelation 3:7-10).
May the Lord keep His people, and especially His servants, in the path of humility and dependence on Him, and save us all from pride and self-exaltation.
~By A.C. Gaebelein Our Hope, May 1920 Transcribed for the web by Cobblestone Road Ministries