“They speak deceitful and worthless words to one another; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.” Psalm 12:2 (AMP)
A few years ago, a new acquaintance from church invited me out for coffee. Although she was not someone I’d ever met before in real life, I had known who she was for years. She had an important position in our community, and I was quite thrilled that she wanted to get together to chat.
Although usually not at a loss for words, I found myself a bit awkward during the first few minutes of our meeting. I wanted to make a good impression and so I decided to tell her how very much I loved her earring and necklace set. Sounds like a fine way to kick off a conversation, right? Maybe so, if that really were the truth.
The truth was I didn’t think her jewelry was cute. However, I did think a little false praise might usher me into her good graces, and then I’d be counted among her circle of friends.
There is a cliché about giving excessive or insincere praise: “Flattery gets you nowhere.” Still, we sometimes feign and fawn in hopes that flattery will indeed get us somewhere!
While gossip can be defined as saying something behind someone’s back you’d never say to their face, flattery is the reverse. It is uttering words to someone’s face you’d never say behind their back … because those words are totally untrue.
When we flatter, we lie, although we might not so readily admit it. The pages of Scripture are chock-full of warnings against this deceptive tool of flattery — a tool that often backfires.
Read these words found in Psalm 12:2: “They speak deceitful and worthless words to one another; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.”
The word rendered “flattering” in English is the Hebrew word chelqah, meaning “smooth, slippery and agreeable.” It is also used in many places to mean a portion of ground or the ground one is presently standing on. Combine these together, and the picture becomes clear. We are surely standing on a slippery slope when we choose to flatter with our lips.
The other part of this verse that intrigues me is the notion of a double heart. The concept conveyed here is that someone who is flattering with their lips really has two hearts: one that is true to their inner soul, and one that is portrayed to the person hearing the lies.
Usually we only have in mind what flattery can do for us — the immediate results we seek when we falsely inflate the ego of another person. But what does flattery do to us? Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking flattery doesn’t harm us.
Proverbs 26:28 identifies one of the consequences: “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (NIV).
The Hebrew word for “ruin” in this verse is midcheh. Interestingly, this is the only occurrence of this word in the entire Bible. It means “a method for, or occasion of, stumbling.” When we work our flattery, we are in for a fall.
Have you ever felt a prick in your heart when you used words of flattery or failed to tell the truth when asked for your opinion by a friend? We might think we are looking out for the best interests of others. However, solid and lasting friendships are built on a foundation of honesty.
Our human connections — whether with family, friends or coworkers — can become strengthened when we decide to be truthful. We can adopt a new habit of shooting straight while simultaneously expressing our love and care for others.
Learning to express honesty tucked in an envelope of kindness can become one of the greatest areas of growth in our lives. Ultimately, it will propel us to deeper, more authentic and healthier relationships with others.
Father, help me not fall prey to utilizing flattery to obtain favor in my relationships. Help me kindly and gently speak the truth to others, knowing that not only is honesty the best policy, but also it pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Proverbs 29:5, “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.” (NIV)
Has there ever been a time that you feigned kindness or admiration and ended up getting caught in a mess?
How might the biblical truths in today’s devotion keep you from flattering in the future and ending up entangled again?
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
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