Flattery

(Acts 24:1-9)

The apostle Paul had been imprisoned and had already stood before several tribunals to give an account of himself and after being moved to Caesarea was brought before the council once again.

Flattery for Greed
Flattery for Greed

This time he was to be examined before the Roman governor of the region, Felix. Five days after Paul had been brought down to Felix by night with a very strong force of soldiers to guard him against forty Jewish assassins who had sworn to kill him, he was brought before the governor.

The high priest of the Jews came down with an entourage to voice their accusations against Paul before Felix. However we see this time they employ the tactic of flattery to attempt to get their way by bringing a spokesman named Tertullus who used this tactic to attempt to sway the governor. So let us look at what took place.

Tertullus’ Speech

Tertullus acting as spokesman for the Jews stood before Felix to condemn Paul. But rather than go straight to the charges he attempted to soften up Felix with flattery. Look at his opening remarks and you can see the flattery and smooth words he used in verses 2-3.

2 And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: “Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, 3 in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.

Tertullus used flattery to stroke the ego of Felix. He attempted to build Felix up for the purpose of gaining an advantage so that Felix would hand Paul over or condemn him.

Flattery

Flattery is a tactic used by many people in the world when they want something. If someone is seeking gain or an advantage from someone they will often turn to flattery as a means of getting what they want.

But flattery is not a tactic that The Lord approves of. In fact the way of The Lord stands strongly against such methods as we see in a number of scriptures. Paul condemned the use of flattery and especially where it is used by those in the church, as he wrote in Romans 16:17-18.

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Deception

As Paul says in the scripture above, flattery is deception. It is designed purely to deceive the person being flattered or the sake of the one doing the flattering. They seek to gain something and so use the deception of flattery and smooth words to achieve their ends.

In the words of Paul above we are especially concerned for people using flattery to gain advantage over the members of the church. Their aim is power, not for the purpose of serving The Lord but to serve their own designs and appetites.

We see Paul’s position on flattery when he appealed to the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-7.

5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

Paul did not use flattery as he preached the gospel to the people or use it or anything else to seek advantage over the people. He was not preaching from greed to gain from the word, but rather sought to bring the word to the people for their benefit and to seek the glory of The Lord.

And aside from that the people will turn away for they will listen to people who come to them with flattery. There will be false teachers who come with flattery and smooth word, and people will like what they hear and follow after them. Paul wrote to Timothy about the time that would come when this takes place, and it is certainly the case now as the words he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3 can be clearly seen in the churches today.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…

These false teachers will “tickle the ears” of the hearers with words that will sound good and please the ones they are preaching to, but it is a con job. They preachers are not seeking the glory of The Lord, nor the good of the people but to feed their own greed and appetites. Peter wrote about these false teachers and their greedy appetites and how they exploit the people with their false words.

2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:2-3)

Flattery is a dangerous thing. It leads people astray and takes them away from the truth and The Lord. The Lord hates flattery and those who use it because the sole purpose of flattery is deception. Deceit and deception is not of God but of the devil, so we can clearly see who is the source of flattery.

Do not use it and always be on guard against it for many people do and will use flattery in some form to gain the advantage over others. It did not do any good against Paul when he stood before Felix the governor for the leaders of the Jews back then were thwarted at every turn. All the flattery of those men achieved was to enable Paul to spread the gospel further eventually taking Paul to Rome where he continued to speak the word and build the church.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng provided by Shaun W)

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