My son was filling me in on one of his required readings, "Dante's Inferno", and I was definitely intrigued by the content. He said something about how for different sins, hell would grant specific types of torture as punishment. He mentioned a few, but I was really taken back by the details of the sin of flattery. Yes, flattery. It is a sin. Some might wonder... And still others, like me, have wandered. And I've known, first-hand, the face and the taste of flattery. It is upon reception, simply lovely, but once it is unveiled, it is sure to leave a bitter taste; and there is no lasting enjoyment or satisfaction in it.
So the author of "Dante's Inferno" made the flatterers face torment by having them lay in a river of human feces. Wow, what an illustration! It's almost as if to say, flattery is the same as human poop, for lack of a better word. So what's so wrong or dirty about flattery? Well, for one thing, it stirs you in the wrong direction. It is not straight-forward and transparent. Therefore, instead of honesty, it is rooted in deceit; and it is misleading. It will tell you what you'd want to hear and what will sound good at the moment. It will buff you up, and then it will deflate. There is no real substance to it. Hence, flattery will leave you feeling humiliated.
Further still, flattery means nothing without a beholder. In order for it to take on its effect, it must be spoken. It has no real effect, unless someone uses it. And so the flatterer in some way, is also being fooled. He or she is also mislead by the thought that using flattery will bring about something good. And when they put it to use, the words seem to flow so easily. So smoothly. It isn't until the effects begin to show, that maybe, just maybe, the stench will seep through and they will begin to see flattery for what it really is... a whole lot of talking crap. Haha!
"Excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one's own interests", that is the definition for flattery found on my google search. I wish I had looked this up, when I was being smitten by flattery. And still, flattery doesn't just say something about the flatterer, but it also says a great deal about the recipient. I know for me, it was the need for approval and a desire to be admired. And so like a little puppy wanting attention, I soaked it up all up. Until, that is, I came to the realization that I was not only being fooled but I was fooling myself.
And what a fool I was! To value someone else's opinion that much, and by the same token, hold such little value for my own. Moreover, to overlook the fact that God's opinion about me surpasses anyone else's. And oh, how he values me! Oh, how He lavishes on me! And still I was foolishly seeking that which God offers, somewhere else. Thankfully, I learned my lesson. Although, it did not come without a price. Still it was a very valuable lesson!
Hence, I encourage you to measure your words before speaking. I encourage you to even be slow to speak. I encourage you to guard your heart and to value yourself. Not by your own standards or the world's perceptions, but by your creator's blueprint. He created you. He has taken great pride in the purpose He has laid out for your life. And He sees your true worth. Therefore, there are no words or even actions that anyone else can offer you that would surpass what God has already designed for you.
Furthermore, I encourage you to walk away, if needed. Look away, when needed. Do whatever you must to not be swayed by the loveliness of flattery. Remember its true nature and how it is known to leave a bitter taste and lasting stench.
Psalm 12:2-3, "They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak."