“Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.” (Psalm 78:36-37)
I mean with God, that is. Flattery will get you nowhere. Granted, it will go a long way with people who are too shallow to know any better. And there are plenty of them. They are so insecure about their own worth or abilities that any compliment, especially one that is overblown, is grasped with gusto and given all credence. The worst part is that the flatterer is elevated to a place of unmerited importance, and his or her own faults likely overlooked. Indeed, that is the motivation behind most flattery. The old “watch my right hand, so you won’t see what my left hand is up to” trick.
God, however, does not suffer from any insecurity, and He needs no reassurance from any of us. He rightfully accepts praise, but high-sounding tribute from a far-off heart is seen for what it is: flattery (Matt.15:8). Today, what people say is considered at least as important as what they do, especially if they say it well. Politicians who can make us feel important, or who can convince us that they understand us, are given precedence over someone who has actually accomplished something. If they can make us feel a part of something unprecedented or (to us) significant, it doesn’t matter if the cause is bogus or even if the politician is a fraud.
But as I say, God is not fooled. When our heart is not right and we have been less than “steadfast in his covenant,” no amount of liturgy or lauding will impress Him. I’m reminded of the little chorus we used to sing in Sunday School: “I want to be more than a Sunday-go-to meetin’ Christian/ I want a religion that fills me every day/Sayin’ “Amen” to the preacher is fine, if all week I let my light shine/ I want to be more than a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ Christian.” God will forgive sin, but hypocrisy is something He just cannot stomach (Rev.3:16). The multitudes praised God with a loud voice when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey; but there were precious few with Him at the Cross.
We should give praise and glory to God every day; but it should not come from a lying mouth and a heart that denies our words. In short, we should praise Him, not flatter Him. It won’t work, you know.