A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. Proverbs 26:28
Those are very strong words today, aren’t they? But when we pause to consider both halves of the verse, it’s very true. Essentially they are two sides to the same coin.
People like to be flattered. When a person jokes that “flattery will get you everwhere” she’s revealing her true heart. She wants to be complimented and flattered.
So then why does a “flattering mouth work ruin?” If we define flattery as “lavish insincere praise and compliments, especially to further one’s own interests.” The insincerity of the flatterer is what makes it a hurtful thing. Why? Because it’s not sincere and you’re doing it with an expectation of the benefit you can receive from it.
So then, is a compliment wrong? Absolutely not. I think back to the one fabulous compliment I heard as my co-worker walked onto an elevator in a large office building and saw a nicely dressed middle aged woman. “Wow, that dress looks stunning on you,” he said. It was sincerity at its finest because it was the first and last time the two had ever seen each other. He was not looking to further his own interests and expected nothing in return. She was delighted with the compliment and I can guarantee you she gushed over it for days. And for my co-worker it was a very natural thing to do.
I know it seems like I’m splitting hairs between compliments and flattery. The one question to ask is, “do I want something in return for the gushing compliment?” As always it’s good that we are “prayed up” so that we do have truth and sincerity on our lips at all times.