Flattery is harmless. Really?

I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.

—Psalm 36:1-2

While a positive word of encouragement or thanks is a good thing, flattery poses a serious danger.  What is the difference?  When offering encouragement and thanks, we must take care not to go overboard by exalting the person.  Focus on what the person did rather than on the goodness of the person.  Flattery, on the other hand, makes too much of the person.  Why is flattery so dangerous?  Because it encourages pride in the recipient.

Beside the flattery we may receive from another, we must be doubly careful not to flatter ourselves, as mentioned specifically in Psalm 36:2.  One of the most lethal results of self-flattery is that the prideful soon grow blind to, and therefore fail to turn from, their sins.  The NIV renders (v.2) this way: “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”

Those who flatter themselves become prideful.  They often begin to look down on others—noticing and judging their sins.  In the end (and the end comes all too quickly!) they become blind to their own sins, are unrepentant, maybe even proving that they are unregenerate.

Verse one says of these people, “There is no fear of God in their eyes.”  That is a serious problem.