Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

“Flattery is all right—so long as you don’t inhale,” said former United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson II. We all like to receive praise—performers, artists, and writers thrive on it; students and employees need—and benefit—from it. We feel dejected when praise is withheld.

To enter into Jesus’ kingdom is to enter into new life, and in the Sermon on the Mount, the kingdom Jesus describes is one of paradoxes. Those who suffer, who are defamed and reviled for following Jesus, will be rewarded; the rich and self-satisfied already have their rewards and will ultimately be woeful. 

Seeking praise stands as the most serious threat to full discipleship—it is the currency of deceivers and false prophets. In succumbing to praise, we reveal our vanity and faithlessness, making us more world-bound than kingdom-bound.

Flattery is all right, but remember to exhale.

MOVING FORWARD: What’s the line between flattery and encouragement? How can you provide encouragement rather than flattery to those you know and love?