Home Features Contribution DEVOTIONAL: Watch out for Flattery By Jackson Ekwugum

DEVOTIONAL: Watch out for Flattery By Jackson Ekwugum



Watch out for Flattery By Jackson Ekwugum

Mark 12:14: “When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

Flattery, according to the dictionary, is “excessive and insincere praise, given especially to further one’s own interests.” In the text under reference, the Pharisees and Herodians employed the use of flattery to trap Jesus Christ. Verbal attacks had failed. Mockery had failed. And every allegation they churned out just did not hold any water. Now they thought “to catch Him in His words” through flattery.

If Jesus had assumed the religious leaders had had a change of mind about Him and allowed Himself to be carried away by their flattery, any direct answer to the question would have put Him in serious trouble and, possibly, undermined His earthly mission. Answering yes to the question would have pitted Him against the people who resented the oppressive tax regime of the wicked Roman Empire. And if He answered no, He would have been promptly arrested for sedition and the charge would have stuck.

Flattery is different from compliment, which is honest, unselfish, deserving affirmation of others. The late Ed Cole described it as “disguised hostility.” Kings, religious, political, and corporate leaders are most susceptible to flattery. For the obvious reason that people in positions of authority crave affirmation, public opinion of their leadership/performance, and assurances of the unswerving loyalty of their subjects/followers/staff. 

Herod paid the ultimate price with his life when he allowed people to put him on the same pedestal with God. Jesus was a sharp contrast to him; He pushed back the attempt by the rich young ruler to flatter Him. “Why do you call Me good?” He replied. “No one is good but One, that is, God.”

The scripture admonishes us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). So, watch out when people come to you with statements like: ‘I have not seen any politician of integrity like you’. ‘You are the only man with the solution to the problems of this country’. ‘This company was nothing until you became the MD’. “You are the only pastor that is preaching the truth’. ‘This church is the best or most relevant church in town’.

Sometimes, flattery emanates from the devil who begins to plant prideful thoughts in our hearts. I recall a story the late Kenneth Hagin told about a female minister who left her marital home and ran off with another man. The Lord showed Hagin a vision of how a demon kept whispering to the lady that she was too beautiful to be suffering as a pastor’s wife, that with her beauty she could be rich and famous. After initially resisting those thoughts, she gradually began to entertain them, believed them, and eventually yielded to those suggestions and went back to the world.

If we don’t intentionally, deliberately, and consistently fight these attempts by people to deify us or the devil trying to make us feel more important than we are, we might get to the point we start believing them and living them out. And that is when we are no longer safe. 

Pride, the Bible says, goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).


Jackson Ekwugum is a respected Nigerian media practitioner, christian writer, teacher of the word and publisher of LifeWay Magazine.