Imagine that you exhaled a toxic gas that when breathed in by others would cause their immediate death. This ailment would likely cause you to resist talking to people and would certainly keep others from ever coming near you.
Though this sounds like the plot for a terrible sci-fi movie, it is actually a spiritual concern. Destruction can come right from our mouths and do spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental damage.
Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” The word picture painted here is even worse than our made up toxic gas breather. At least we assumed that the toxic gas breather wanted to avoid human contact so to prevent the deaths of those around them. According to this verse, the one whose tongue is deceptive pursues them. Why do I say that? Because the deceiver hates their victim.
There is no love, no brotherly affection, no regard or respect for their intelligence, or for their spirituality. They simply breath out lies like a toxic gas without concern for the lives they are ruining.
Their tongue is double-sided. It spews venomous deception that sometimes takes the form of flattery or praise. Always be aware of those who overly praise you or others. The last thing any of us need is someone constantly telling us how great we are. One, you aren’t that great (don’t worry, I’m not either). Two, the flattery is not genuine, so it’s not worth spending your time valuing it anyways. Three, eventually, after enough praise, it’s just going to lose its significance…you’ll go praise-blind. Just as you get used to the smell of your own perfume or cologne so that you can no longer smell it while others can, so also too much praise just loses its impact.
Let this be an encouragement to be wise and careful as to how we manage our words. From a deceitful heart sprays deceitful venom, so guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23). Do not shy away from offering praise and encouragement where it is due but be wise as a serpent in discerning the flattery of others (Matt. 10:16).
Let Ephesians 4:29 be your guide. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Notice that Paul modifies our building up language by saying we should only use it when necessary. This prevents us from being blabbering praise-givers whose flattery will eventually fall on deaf ears.
Therefore, always avoid ungodly words from pouring out of your mouth and be wise as to when building up is needed. In doing so you will give grace, not grief; you will give life, not toxic gas to those around you.