Wow. I gained insight today as I read about a man named Gadianton “who was exceedingly expert in many words.” He used flattery, others bought into it, and it turned out to be more destructive through its ripple effect than could ever be imagined!
I concluded that it’s important that we DO NOT CONFUSE FLATTERY, which is insincere praise, WITH EMPATHY, which is a sincere seeking to understand another’s situation or feelings.
I realized that many good-hearted, empathetic people in our day may confuse flattery with empathy. Many stay in more-than-difficult situations because they see what seems to be good in another person and think it’s empathy, when underneath, in the heart of the other, there is deceit and calculated choices. Destruction is brewing.
Developing the quality of discernment is important in our lives today. Discernment is keen perception or insight. To me, this must be coupled with the influence and insight that comes from God into our own hearts, so that we may see clearly and know clearly what to do next in our lives and in our relationships.
The influence of good-hearted people is needed in our ever-darkening world. We must continue to shine the light of our positive influence without fear of being used and abused. To do this, I can see that discernment is needed, so we do not become prey to those with deceitful desires and self-centered, destructive purposes in their hearts.
We must also check our own heart and the methods we use to interact with others. Do we simply use flattery (insincere praise) to get our own way, or are we truly connecting heart-to-heart through empathy. We all long to be loved, appreciated and cared about. Choosing empathy is choosing a path to healthy connections if both parties have empathy in their hearts. Choosing flattery leaves you feeling emotionally flat and alone–even in a crowd.
Reference to Gadianton: Helaman 2:4-14 in the Book of Mormon