During the trial of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of John, the Jewish leaders said a curious thing. They said, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).
As he often does in his gospel, John highlights the irony in this story.
The Jewish leaders refused to recognize the authority of Rome to occupy and govern the Nation of Israel. They despised the tax collectors who were rightly seen as collaborators with the occupying army. They did not accept Rome as the rightful sovereign over the Nation of Israel. As a result, they longed for the day when Messiah would come and liberate Israel from Roman occupation.
But, because they were so desperate to have Jesus killed, they paid lip service to Caesar as their rightful sovereign. They wanted to use the Roman authorities to aid them in the removal of Jesus from society.
The difference between a compliment and flattery is that when we use the latter, we don’t mean what we say. Flattery is saying what your listener wants to hear while you know what you are saying is not entirely true.
Have you ever been tempted to use flattery to get what you want?
Have you ever told only part of the story to improve your chances of obtaining the desired outcome?
Have you ever used religion or spirituality as a means of appearing superior to someone?
We have these stories in the Bible, and we profit by reading them, so that we come face-to-face with our own sin. Honesty requires us to admit that given the circumstances and without the work of God in our lives, we would likely respond in the same way the religious leaders did.
The good news is that by taking warning and seeking wisdom and power from God, we can avoid such pitfalls. Not because we are better but because Jesus came to pull us out of the muck.