Proverbs 26:24 “The one who hates others disguises it with his lips, but he stores deceit within him.”
Proverbs 26:28 “A lying tongue hates those crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Proverbs 27:4 “Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”
James 3:14 – “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth.“
James 3:16 – “For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice.”
Romans 12:9 “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.”
Whenever someone is praising me, I am given to pause. I acknowledge in my heart that anything good in me is only Christ and remind myself that nothing good dwells in me apart from God. Compliments and flattery feel good. If flattery works ruin,though, I do not want to embrace it nor accept it. On the other hand, encouragement is beneficial, necessary and a biblical mandate, so how can we differentiate between encouragement and flattery? At first blush I would rather have flattery than blatant hatred, until I consider the insidious nature of flattery.
There are haters everywhere today, but some of them might be even within your closest circles. They might not even believe it themselves if they were confronted with the hate they are concealing. Sometimes they want your approval, sometimes they pretend to be your biggest fan, but you get this feeling that betrays their outward praise. What causes this deceitful tongue? Jealousy, which is ultimately hatred of the one envied. Jealousy is discontentment with what God provided and the wrong belief that we deserve what the other person has. The object of jealousy reveals the motivation of the heart. Is it the outward appearance that is praised? Then vanity could be the root cause of envy. Is it talents that are praised? Jealousy of ability might be to blame. Or perhaps it is because you do not give that person something they want from you, which they can really only get from God. They wrongfully expect something from you that you are not led to give, so they hate you for it.
The scriptures above reveal a wicked heart that would seek your destruction and yet couch it in kindness. Wow – what a scary picture. Our enemy is crafty and ever seeking our demise, but we can naively think his tactics would be obviously evil. Even a Christian can be used by the enemy if envy and anger are left unchecked in his heart. No one likes to be the recipient of another person’s disdain of themselves, yet I am certain everyone reading this blog has also had moments themselves in which they were a tool of the enemy in this regard. So, while I am shocked when I see people harming me with insincere flattery then gossiping about me behind my back, I realize I am just as guilty or as capable of the same sin. So, how do we combat this evil? Giving that sin the worst name, realizing what I am really doing and praying for deliverance from it.
What strikes my heart the most when I am tempted to hate another human, is that this precious life was made in the image of God. Flawed, yet beautiful to Christ. They might have injected harm and pain into my life and be a thorn in my flesh, but they are loved by God. They might not even understand why they do it themselves. I do not have to become best buddies with them, but I can pray for them and ask God for wisdom in what a relationship with them looks like. Mental health is a big part of victory in this area of our lives, too. Recognizing that I cannot stop or control someone from envying or hating me, but I can put on love and place them in God’s hands, instead, is crucial. Love must be sincere. I do not have to pretend I am someone’s closest confidant or be manipulated to do what someone is demanding in order to be godly. In fact, that would be inappropriate and harmful. No, instead, I can die to my desire for man’s praise and worshiping at the altar of acceptance, when it is fleeting. I can rise above the small-mindedness and dwell on God and His word. Let’s not be flattery’s fool when we realize any crown of praise or flattery we would receive should just be laid down at His feet, anyway.
Thank You, God, for revealing our hearts and setting us free. Help us to not get caught up in the quagmire of sin often found in superficial relationships that can entrap us. Help us to love sincerely from our heart and forgive one another, all for Your glory!