Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: "We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly."
Thoughts for Today:Having failed in their attempt to murder Paul, the Jews have now hired the famous orator and litigator, Tertullus to make their case before Felix. As you read Tertullus words, you can almost see the syrup dripping from his words as he tries to sweeten Felix before he makes his case. How does he do so? With false flattery:
* "A long period of peace." I don't think so, there were riots constantly breaking out throughout the province.
* "Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude." Hardly, everyone knew Felix was a thief (literally robbing the country for his own personal gain), he appointed corrupt leaders, and was completely without morals (for example, the wife of Felix was Drucilla his third wife who he had convinced to leave her husband his brother and marry him instead.)
I wonder if Felix was aware of how Tertullus was using flattery to soften him up? Did Felix realize what the people really thought of him, or was he living in his own world of self-deception?
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:5, "Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet." I think this can be taken in two ways: first, as we see in today's passage, flattery is a trap that can be used to snare those who are susceptible. (The Message translation: "A flattering neighbor is up to no good; he's probably planning to take advantage of you."). And second, it can also be a trap for the flatterer as well, leading to destruction. How? Proverbs 24:24, "Whoever says to the guilty, 'You are innocent' -- peoples will curse him and nations denounce him." This is a very harsh way of saying that when you flatter someone falsely, you lose your own personal credibility -- in other words, no one will believe you.
Questions to Ponder:Certainly we are Biblically instructed to encourage one another; however this is vastly different than flattery. If you were to encourage a friend today, how would your words differ from those used to flatter? Part of the difference is who is intended to gain -- encouragement strengthens, flattery sets a trap; encouragement supports resolve, flattery preys upon the weakness ego -- subtle yet important distinctions. Would you rather be encouraged or flattered?