Darryl’s Bakery made the most wonderful donuts and cakes. I remember going into the little shop, holding my mother’s hand as the bell above the hundred-year-old door rang, announcing our arrival. Every birthday, Mom would purchase a delicious white cake with little clowns on top, wearing their red and blue clown hats, along with a big candle in the shape of my age.
Birthdays were not the only occasion for a trip downtown to that little bakery. Sometimes, Mom would buy one of Darryl’s famous coconut cakes for dessert when guests came to dinner. On one such occasion, a coconut cake sat on our pantry shelf. When Mom was distracted by a knock at the door, I saw my chance. Grabbing a spoon, I went to the cake and scooped a big chunk into my mouth. Next, I peered down the hall to hear my mom visiting with our neighbor at the front door—so I went back for another big bite. I don’t remember how many times I did this, but by the time the chatting between neighbors was over I was feeling my indulgence in the pit of my stomach!
As I lay on the couch in a nauseous state my mom hollered from the kitchen. I’d been found out. I spent the rest of the afternoon being sick and even missed dinner that night. Because of me, our guests also missed out on one of Darryl’s fine cakes. For a long time after that day, I couldn’t bear the smell of those coconut-laced white cakes. Too much sugary sweetness is harmful to the body.
Flattery can be tempting to the ears, but it is harmful to the soul and spirit. It goes down deep and alters our discernment of what is best. We often find ourselves coming back for more. But the flatterer is not out for our good. The sugary sweetness of the words they speak is cruel, even hateful:
Flattery is a form of hatred and wounds cruelly. Proverbs 26:28
A true compliment from a sincere heart is refreshing to one’s soul. The bible compares these words to “apples of gold.” But the insincere, selfish words of a flatterer are excessive, just like too much sweet, frosted cake. They serve the purpose of the speaker in some way, filling us with words that do not satisfy. Give attention to the warning in God’s Word: avoid the flatterer and you will avoid a lot of pain!