Praise no man; flatter no man; and permit no man to praise or flatter you. Satan will do enough of this work. Lose sight of the instrument, and think of Jesus. Praise the Lord. Give glory to God. Make melody to God in your hearts. Talk of the truth. Talk of the Christian's hope, the Christian's heaven.
I have been shown that great caution should be used, even when it is necessary to lift a burden of oppression from men and women, lest they lean to their own wisdom and fail to make God their only dependence. It is not safe to speak in praise of persons or to exalt the ability of a minister of Christ. In the day of God, very many will be weighed in the balance and found wanting because of exaltation. I would warn my brethren and sisters never to flatter persons because of their ability, for they cannot bear it. Self is easily exalted, and, in consequence, persons lose their balance. I say again to my brethren and sisters: If you would have your souls clean from the blood of all men, never flatter, never praise the efforts of poor mortals; for it may prove their ruin. It is unsafe, by our words and actions, to exalt a brother or sister, however apparently humble may be his or her deportment. If they really possess the meek and lowly spirit which God so highly esteems, help them to retain it. This will not be done by censuring them nor by neglecting to properly appreciate their true worth. But there are few who can bear praise without being injured.
Be not satisfied with superficial knowledge. Be not elated by flattery nor depressed by faultfinding. Satan will tempt you to pursue such a course that you may be admired and flattered; but you should turn away from his devices. You are servants of the living God.
"Let every soul bear in mind the words of Jesus, 'Without me ye can do nothing.' We are wholly dependent upon the Holy Spirit for fitness to do the Master's work; we must rely upon him for Christian fortitude, perseverance and grace. 'By their fruits ye shall know them.' Your words, your character, your conduct, your spirit, reveal the character of the tree, for these are the fruits you bear. The sinful nature is to be kept under the control of the Spirit of God. The transforming grace of Christ will bring the will into harmony with the will of Christ. The more closely we are brought into unity with Christ, the more clearly we shall discern the defects of our character. It is marvelous how deceptive is the human heart, how easily self-deluded, how easily led into sin. Be jealous of yourself, never become puffed up, never flatter yourself or accept flattering from any man or woman. When persons attempt to flatter you, tell them they are giving voice to the temptations of Satan.
We should have the love of Christ in the heart to such a degree that our interest in others will be impartial and sincere. Our affections should take a wide range, and not center simply upon a few who flatter us by special confidences. The tendency of such friendships is to lead us to neglect those who are in greater need of love than those upon whom we bestow our attentions. We should not narrow our circle of friends to a few favorites because they pet and flatter us by their professed affection. The partial attention so often bestowed and received, works not for the highest good of those who would serve God. One draws upon the other for strength, and the praise, flattery, and affection one receives of the other, supplies the place that should be supplied by the grace of God, and thus human friends take the affections from Christ. In depending upon human friends in this intimate way, you learn to lean upon broken reeds, and Christ the true Friend is forgotten. He who is our light, our righteousness, our wisdom, our sanctification, and our redemption, is no longer regarded as the necessity of our lives. Human confidants, human associates, absorb the love and trust that should be given to God alone.
. . .But in behalf of Christ, I warn you to flatter no man. It is Satan's plan to flatter the pride of our natures, and we are in danger of shutting out Christ, his blood, his righteousness, and placing man where Jesus Christ should be. This is our constant danger. Let Christ be lifted up before the people, acknowledge his power, revealed through the instrument in doing a good work, but let all the glory be given back to God. Grace always humbles the receiver. It never exalts man. The grace of Christ is to be recognized and exalted; but sinful man never. Rejoice with trembling, nevertheless, rejoice.
Beware of Flattery.I am pained when I see men praised, flattered, and petted. God has revealed to me the fact that some who receive these attentions are unworthy to take His name upon their lips; yet they are exalted to heaven in the estimation of finite beings, who read only from outward appearance. My sisters, never pet and flatter poor, fallible, erring men, either young or old, married or unmarried. You know not their weaknesses, and you know not but that these very attentions and this profuse praise may prove their ruin. I am alarmed at the shortsightedness, the want of wisdom, that many manifest in this respect.
You may forget childish things, and grow in grace day by day. As you make advancement, set your face like a flint against all falsehood, all pretense. You will sometimes be flattered by men, but more frequently by women. Especially when you present the truth in new fields, you will meet persons who will engage in this wicked flattery. As a servant of Christ, despise this flattery; shun it as you would a venomous serpent. Rebuke the woman who will praise your smartness, holding your hand as long as she can retain it in her own. Have little to say to persons of this class; for they are the agents of Satan, and carry out his plans by laying bewitching snares to beguile you from the path of holiness. Every sensible Christian lady will act a modest part; she will understand the devices of Satan, and will not be his co-laborer.
We need to shun everything that would encourage pride and self-sufficiency; therefore we should beware of giving or receiving flattery or praise. It is Satan's work to flatter. He deals in flattery as well as in accusing and condemnation. Thus he seeks to work the ruin of the soul. Those who give praise to men are used by Satan as his agents. Let the workers for Christ direct every word of praise away from themselves. Let self be put out of sight. Christ alone is to be exalted. "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood," let every eye be directed, and praise from every heart ascend. (Rev. 1:5.)
Do not receive flattery, even in your religious life. Flattery is an art by which Satan lieth in wait to deceive and to puff up the human agent with high thoughts of himself. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Flattery has been the food upon which many of our youth have been nourished; and those who have praised and flattered have supposed that they were doing right; but they have been doing wrong. Praise, flattery, and indulgence have done more toward leading precious souls into false paths, than any other art that Satan has devised. . . .
Many a youth has been flattered that he has ability as a natural gift; when the ability he thinks he has, can be attained only through diligent training and culture, learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ. Believing he is naturally gifted, he thinks there is no necessity of putting his mind to the task of mastering his lessons; and before he is aware, he is fast in the snare of Satan. God permits him to be attacked by the enemy, in order that he may understand his own weakness. He is permitted to make some decided blunder, and is plunged into painful humiliation. But when he is writhing under a sense of his own weakness, he is not to be judged harshly. This is the time above all others when he needs a judicious counselor, a true friend, who has discernment of character. This is the time when he needs a friend who is led by the Spirit of God, and who will deal patiently and faithfully with the erring, and lift up the soul that is bowed down. He is not to be lifted up by the aid of flattery. No one is authorized to deal out to the soul this delusive intoxicant of Satan. Rather he is to be pointed to the first rounds of the ladder, and his stumbling feet are to be placed on the lowest round of the ladder of progress. Peter says, "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The tenor of the conversation reveals the treasure of the heart. The cheap, common talk, the words of flattery, the foolish witticism, spoken to create a laugh, are the merchandise of Satan, and all who indulge in this talk are trading in his goods. Impressions are made upon those who hear these things, similar to that made upon Herod when the daughter of Herodias danced before him. All these transactions are recorded in the books of heaven, and at the last great day they will appear in their true light before the guilty ones. Then all will discern in them the alluring, deceptive workings of the devil, to lead them into the broad road and the wide gate that opens to their ruin.
By Allowing Wrong Attitudes.
The lessons of childhood, good or bad, are not learned in vain. Character is developed in youth for good or evil. At home there may be praise and false flattery; in the world each stands on his own merits. The pampered ones, to whom all home authority has yielded, are there daily subjected to mortification by being obliged to yield to others. Many are even then taught their true place by these practical lessons of life. Through rebuffs, disappointments, and plain language from their superiors, they often find their true level and are humbled to understand and accept their proper place. But this is a severe and unnecessary ordeal for them to pass through and could have been prevented by proper training in their youth.
. . . But if you are petted and courted and flattered because you can make bright speeches and apt remarks, and because you are cheerful, lively, and witty, and not because of intellectual and moral worth, you will be looked upon by sensible, godly men and women as an object of pity rather than envy. You should be guarded against flattery. Whoever is foolish enough to flatter you cannot be your true friend. Your true friends will caution, entreat, and warn you, and reprove your faults.
We are to pray for the impartation of the Spirit as the remedy for sin-sick souls. The church needs to be converted, and why should we not prostrate ourselves at the throne of grace, as representatives of the church, and from a broken heart and contrite spirit make earnest supplication that the Holy Spirit shall be poured out upon us from on high? Let us pray that when it shall be graciously bestowed, our cold hearts may be revived, and we may have discernment to understand that it is from God, and receive it with joy. Some have treated the Spirit as an unwelcome guest, refusing to receive the rich gift, refusing to acknowledge it, turning from it, and condemning it as fanaticism. When the Holy Spirit works the human agent, it does not ask us in what way it shall operate. Often it moves in unexpected ways. . . . the Spirit is to come, not to praise men or to build up their erroneous theories, but to reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, many turn away from it. They are not willing to be deprived of the garments of their own self-righteousness. They are not willing to exchange their own self-righteousness, which is unrighteousness, for the righteousness of Christ, which is pure, unadulterated truth. The Holy Spirit flatters no man, neither does it work according to the devising of any man, Finite, sinful men are not to work the Holy Spirit. When it shall come as a reprover, through any human agent whom God shall choose, it is man's place to hear and obey its voice.
The scribes and Pharisees prided themselves upon the idea that they were God's chosen people, and they were filled with self-righteousness. "Christ came unto his own, and his own received him not." He did not flatter the Pharisees or exalt them in any way. He received the publicans and sinners whom the Jews heartily despised, and, because his lessons of humility, compassions, and love rebuked their selfishness and pride, they would none of him, but turned from him in scorn. They made great ostentation, wore long robes, and stood praying on the corners of the streets, but none of these pretensions to piety awed the great Teacher or drew from him one word of approval. They flattered themselves, but he did not flatter them. The teaching of Christ was against all vanity and pride, for these were abhorrent to the Most High. It is the humble and the contrite whose prayers are heard in heaven. The Lord declares that he knoweth the proud afar off. He says, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
God's word condemns also the use of those meaningless phrases and expletives that border on profanity. It condemns the deceptive compliments, the evasions of truth, the exaggerations, the misrepresentations in trade, that are current in society and in the business world. "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one." Matthew 5:37, R.V.
What a diligent, constant work is the work of the true Christian. Ever he wears the yoke of Christ. Evil surmisings are not allowed to take root in his heart. He has genuine modesty, and does not talk of his qualifications and accomplishments. Self-admiration is not a part of his experience. There is much to learn in regard to what comprises true Christian character. It certainly is not self-inflation. The true Christian keeps his eyes fixed on Him who searches the heart and tries the reins, who requires truth in the inward parts. His constant prayer is, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Compliments are not to be given to sinful, erring men. The glory and majesty of God should ever fill our souls with a holy awe, humbling us in the dust before him. His condescension, his wide, deep compassion, his tenderness and love, are given us to strengthen our confidence, and remove that fear which tendeth unto bondage. The Lord wants us to give him all there is of us, in a steady, evenly balanced Christian life, a life that illustrates the principles of his law.
Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears prayer, for then we shall give the praise to Him. The custom of offering praise to men is one that results in great evil. One praises another, and thus men are led to feel that glory and honor belong to them. When you exalt man, you lay a snare for his soul, and do just as Satan would have you. You should praise God with all your heart, soul, might, mind, and strength; for God alone is worthy to be glorified (RH March 27, 1913).
We are in the greatest peril when we receive praise of one another, when we enter into a confederacy to exalt one another. The great burden of the Pharisees was to secure the praise of men; and Christ told them that that was all the reward they would ever receive. Let us take up our appointed work and do it for Christ; if we suffer privation, let it be for His sake. Our divine Lord was made perfect through suffering. Oh, when shall we see men laboring as He labored!
Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No Error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I May be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wish to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The Truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action. Selected Messages Bk2, pg. 56
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