(Sorry this post is so late. There have been problems with Blogger all day.)
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. -Luke 4:22-24 (KJV)
Everyone needs encouragement, kind words, and expressions of affirmation. However, we are to be vigilant regarding flattery, for there is the possibility of an ulterior motive behind the words. Writer Mason Cooley once said, “Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?” If someone is offering genuine words of admiration and encouragement we will benefit from their concern and sincerity. However, if they are seeking to manipulate us then such false praise will ring hollow in our ears. I recall a seminary professor once telling me and a group of students to “beware the incense of praise.” If someone is symbolically burning incense in front of you while telling you how wonderful you are then be on your guard; he or she may have another motive in mind.
Jesus would not be fooled by the flattery of those who thought they could only take in part of His message while ignoring the rest. As long as they thought they were hearing what they wanted to hear they were willing to shower Him with praise; “All bare witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” “Isn’t He wonderful?” they were thinking. “Joseph’s son; someone from right here in our own town.” Such sentiments changed, however, when Jesus hit them with a hard and undeniable truth: “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country…And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:24, 27). The crowd then became angry with Jesus to the point of desiring to throw Him off a cliff.
Jesus confronted the people with the truth of the gospel; they were sinners in need of salvation. We too are called to share this vital truth with those around us. Like the peoples’ response to Jesus, they too will in many instances resent us for telling them the truth. We notice Jesus didn’t brow beat people and neither did He try to coerce them into following Him. Instead He shared with them the truth. Countless people believe they are fine just as they are. The gospel confronts us with the reality of our need for salvation.
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not flatter, coerce, or intimidate people into following the Lord. Instead, the gospel points to the love and grace of God found through Jesus. Through faith in Christ we can experience God’s grace in all its wonderful fullness. In Jesus we find spiritual victory, life, joy, peace, and power for daily living.
Let’s not flatter ourselves into believing we are fine just the way we are. We need the Lord Jesus.