The Bible is very hard on flattery and flatterers.  Psalm 12:1-2 tells us that the ungodly use flattery.  Jude 16 warns that the ungodly use flattery for their own advantage.  Proverbs 26:28 states, A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  Flattery brings ruin to its recipients. 

     The interesting thing about flattery is that I can recognize it….as long as it is being a directed towards another.

  In Judges 8:22, the Israelites come to Gideon with a request:  Be our King.  Gideon turns them down (or does he?).  If you look at the request closely, you will notice that the Israelites employed flattery in their attempt to crown Gideon king.

     What is flattery?  How is it different from encouragement? Flattery is the use of truths, half-truths or lies to secure something beneficial for ourselves.  Encouragement is the use of truth to build-up someone else.  In other words, flattery and encouragement differ in integrity and intention.  The flatterer will use whatever is needed (truth, half-truth, lies) to get what he wants.  The encourager only uses truth to build-up another person.

     Back to Judges 8:22, the Israelites use a half-truth in their attempt to persuade Gideon to be their King and provide them with security.  The second half of the verse gives their reason for wanting him as king, …because you have saved us out of the hand of the Midianites.  Half-truth.  In Judges 7:2, God told Gideon that he was going to reduce the Israelite army from a great number (32,000) to a small number (300) so …that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her.  Even if Israel did not know of this statement, Gideon knew.

     Think about our society.  Do you think that Michael Jackson was surrounded by encouragers or flatterers?  Do you think that Tiger Woods is surrounded by encouragers or flatterers?  Let’s think about Christendom.  Are John Piper, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, your pastor, you surrounded by encouragers or flatterers?

     I am convicted that everyone is wired to want to give and receive flattery.  What can we do to short-circuit flattery?  First, recognize that only the gospel can transform idolatrous, self-flattering hearts.  Second, surround yourself with friends, not worshippers.  Finally, pray for the Pipers, Mohlers, Driscolls, your pastor.  Pray that they will not flatter themselves (Ps 36:1-2) nor be enamored by flattery.  Pray that you will be a gospel encourager in the lives of your spouse, children, church members, etc.