There is a slang term in the English language, brown nose. It means to seek favor in a fawning manner. For example, someone may pay you a compliment to make you feel good about yourself while in reality what that person wants is simply to gain your favor. People brown nose to gain a higher standing. Those who observe people brown nosing, often ridicule them directly or behind their back because the action smacks of flattery and a lack of genuineness.
Brown nosing is the seamy side of paying homage, which should be a dignified act. Centuries ago in European society, a vassal might surrender himself to the feudal lord, by kneeling and giving his joined hands to the nobleman, who clasped them in his own, thus accepting the surrender.
2 Chronicles 24:17,18—However, after Jehoiada died, the rulers of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them, and they abandoned the temple of the LORD God of their ancestors and served the Asherah poles and the idols. So there was wrath against Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.
The Bible tells us, “Throughout the time of Jehoiada the priest, Joash did what was right in the LORD’s sight” (24:2). However, as soon as the priest died, officials from Judah came and turned his heart. How did they succeed in corrupting a good king? My hunch is it had much to do with paying homage. Those rulers appealed to King Joash’s ego stroking his sense of importance such that the king viewed himself higher than he viewed God. Why else would he rebel from his Lord and authorize idol worship? Undoubtedly, those evil rulers stood to gain from the practice of idol worship. They may have resented the authority and prominence of a religious priest. Somehow, they so corrupted the king’s thinking that he commanded that Johoiada’s son, Zechariah, be stoned to death after the priest’s son chastised the people for turning away from God. What a tragic turnaround for a leader who knew better!
How is your ego? What happens inside your heart when people attempt to curry your goodwill by sweet talk? If our need for importance, power, or control is out of balance, we are set up to accept hype and praise and potentially make compromising decisions. One course of action will help keep us in balance. As soon as someone gives you praise (whether it be genuine or with an agenda), deflect the glory to God. Someone says, “You are such a great speaker.” Respond simply, “Thank you. I give the credit to the Lord who gives me the wisdom to know what to say as I rely on Him.” The Lord is the worthy One! If there is to be homage, let it be to Him.
The tongue is our most powerful weapon of manipulation.—Richard J. Foster in Celebration of Discipline
©2010Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)