People-Pleasing & Pandering In The Church
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
There are many adjectives or attributes which are given to the devil in Scripture to quell our ignorance, lest he take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11). Among those are: “cunning” (Genesis 3:1), and “wily” (Ephesians 6:11). Note the Webster’s 1828 entry for: WILY, adjective [from wile.] Cunning; sly; using craft or stratagem to accomplish a purpose; subtle; as a wily adversary. Ah, yes, Satan is subtle and quite camouflaged in many of his schemes. Yet, with such plain descriptions given for us to beware of this one who sets secret snares like a fowler for a bird, how often do we walk carelessly in our hearing and listening? You may often “hear and not understand” because you do not “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18). While Satan’s works are varied, much of his mastery is in the art of people-pleasing and flattery. His first temptation in the garden contained the dual elements of subverting God’s word and appealing to Eve’s desires; presenting something “pleasant” and “desirable” (Genesis 3:6). The subtlety with which Satan employs his schemes cannot be overstated. And while we may understand the concept, actually discerning the scheme itself while it is in play can prove more difficult than we at first imagined in our proud conceit. A man tasked with lifting a block of gold about the size of a microwave (one cubic foot), might think it a fairly easy task given the relatively small volume. But unless he has been trained and exercised for such a task, that block will not so much as budge (1,206 lbs. if you’re wondering [547kg.]). Likewise in spiritual matters pertaining to this subtle and cunning adversary, we must aim to grow to full age becoming, “those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Bearing in mind the subtlety and cunning of Satan, understand that much of his work is done under the guise of nobility and virtue. If he were a member of your church, his last name might be Virtue. While it’s true that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, he more often tempts with hatred in the heart knowing the essence of murder is in it already. And an even subtler method of Satan is to tempt with the pride of false humility and piety. The lips of Satan are truly the lips of an angel, but that of a fallen angel for whom hell itself was created. Even as, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14), he also transforms his speech into that of an angel of light, seemingly. And if we are not trained to perceive the voice of the Lord by His word, consistently and properly divided, Satan will successfully walk past with a very convincing disguise. He always creeps in unnoticed in this way (Jude 1:4). This convincing cover is usually something that would appear trivial to the untrained eye. The snare of the fowler lies hidden among the natural landscape. So it should seem not only innocuous for a minister to say, “Thank you for coming…” but mean-spirited and needlessly contentious to object to such a thing, right? Ah, but the real divisions and offenses are departures from sound doctrine marked “by smooth words and flattering speech” and so they that possess a tongue of honey “deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:18)
So, what could possibly be wrong with telling people “Thank you for coming…”? These simple words (and variations of it, e.g. “Thanks for joining us”, “Thanks for tuning in”, “Thanks for subscribing”, etc.) which may be acceptable in another context, bear a sinister underbelly in this particular context. There are two sorts of scenarios in which this happens. We will focus primarily on the latter, which is the vastly more common and more sinister. But firstly (though the extreme rarity), it may be possible that someone innocently says this as a dull custom or a mere formality because they simply haven’t thought it through. They thank people for coming out of sheer habit and “well-intentioned” politeness, following some pattern set before them. But ignorance does not preclude our giving place to the devil. He will make entry by any means he can. A foothold will do if it will make way for greater entry later. In this instance, negligence is the issue. While allowing that the intention is not directly sinister or overtly self-seeking, we can see what the intention is not. If we are not deliberate in godliness and circumspect in all our walking and speaking, Satan will find his way in. One needn’t plant weeds in a garden for them to grow, they simply neglect weeding the garden and it will be done for them. In how many other areas of our lives are we more exact and more careful? Would we eat just anything set before us without looking at it first? If we were to back our vehicle out of a driveway without looking first and hit a pedestrian, would negligence be a sufficient excuse?
We are warned that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.” (James 3:6), but we might think this only applies to outwardly harsh language. Yet the same apostle tells us that the one who doesn’t bridle it “deceives his own heart”. It is to be kept and bridled as it is the instrument which plays the music of our heart, negligent or deliberate. Our thoughts are expressed by the tongue and if every thought is not brought “into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) who knows what will come out? Is the heart not “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Who then would leave such a deceitful engine to move our tongues unmanned? That would be to send a plane to the air without a pilot. What catastrophes might come cannot be disregarded as unintentional when it was in our power to avert it and when we ought to have been intentionally circumspect. We are told that even our idle words will be judged. Understand that the “little things” we overlook or take for granted, when not filtered through God’s word can be an entry point for Satan. You may not have intended harm in a thing, but if you are not intentional for good and diligent about it, Satan will capitalize on the opportunity, at the very least to “crouch in the den or lurk in the lair to lie in wait” (Job 38:40). So it behooves us all to take heed not only how we hear but how we speak even in the “innocent” things, to “take heed to speak what the LORD has put in my mouth.” (Numbers 23:12), especially those who presume to be ministering eternal truth to God’s people. Asking the simple question, “What impression may I be giving by saying this?” can be a helpful starting point. “Am I being directed by the sentiments and precedents set in scripture or somewhere else?” may be a better follow-up question. As with all things, Jesus is our pattern, and He was never not absolutely intentional with every word and action, saying, “…just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (John 12:50). But observation and experience shows this to be the lesser of the two scenarios as the phrase, “Thank you for coming” is more often the deliberate exercise of the reverse panderer and flatterer.
It’s a curious thing when the person who occupies the position most often in receipt of flattery becomes the dispenser of it. But the man-pleaser plays both sides of the field. Herein lies the cunning of Satan. It’s disarming to be flattered by who would otherwise be the typical object of flattery or the one to whom the praise is expected to be directed. When we speak of the “fear of man” or “man-pleasing” it is often in reverse. We think of the groveling sycophant who lavishes praise upon a particular teacher or who looks the other way in the face of his errors for fear of his censure. But we are not immediately pressed with the people-pleasing minister or the pandering pastor, especially not if that one seems to be doctrinally astute. But the self-seeking man is also a people-pleasing man, for if he truly pleased God, he would not be self-seeking and would therefore not seek to please men as a result. And in the seeking for self things like status, stature, attendance and all that comes with notability, one must please the men and women who are the symbol of their status and effective employers.
The first question to ask then is this: What are the words, “Thank you” intended for? After all, the bible is replete with commands to be thankful and full of thanksgiving, not to mention kind and tenderhearted. To show this subtle ploy of Satan, we must dig to the root. The leaves of many poisonous plants give the impression that they are among the good. The phrase, “Thank you” is not a greeting. The words, “Greetings” or “Welcome” are the words of hospitality. We give thanks to show appreciation for something that was done for us; they are the words of personal gratitude. If someone gave you homemade cookies, it would be sinful not to say, “thank you”. If you were invited into someone’s home as a guest, it would certainly be in order to say, “thank you for having me” or “thank you for your hospitality”. If you imposed yourself on someone else unexpectedly either in person or by letter, it might be in order to say, “Thank you for your time.” These are not at all what we have in mind. Though the verbiage is identical, the context alters it significantly. For example if someone told you that they just received an answer to a specific prayer you might smile and say, “Thank the Lord. What a blessing.” But if the same person told you their child was just hit by a train, you can see how out of order that phrase would be, for, “…like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20). As with passive-aggressive statements or actions, context can alter the entire meaning of a phrase or reveal its intention. This is what we aim to uncover. Barring the first scenario of mechanical speech and negligence, when some Christian deliberately says, “Thank you for coming…” to a gathered body of believers, this small phrase becomes a massive window into the intentions of their heart.
The intention behind this and all such related or motivated phrases or actions is to pander to the listener. We know that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34), so that it can still not be consciously deliberated and nevertheless be a clear indication of the disposition of one’s heart. This will typically be accompanied with other actions and words which will stand to corroborate this if you will but look at what can be clearly seen. The pandering-pastor and people-pleasing minister or organization issues a “Thanks”, because he perceives the listener as doing him a favor. By letting them know how grateful he is that they have come, he betrays his own selfish ambitions, for why would there be a “thanks” unless there was a direct benefit to him? In the first part he’s thanking them for giving him relevance and in the second part he’s thanking them to ensure that they return and continue to give him relevance. This is a marketing and public relations strategy employed by most every business. When a customer purchases your product, you want to thank them to let them know you are grateful that they chose you. By making the customer feel appreciated there is a higher likelihood that they will purchase from you again. Customer appreciation is a key strategy in any business growth model. I’m not here to defend or condemn that in its context, but to show that the same strategy is being employed by many (if not most) “churches” and Christian organizations. What may be fair or ethical in a business model has no business in the church.
Firstly, this “thank you for coming” betrays gratitude for giving the speaker and/or church or organization relevance. This is all it could be doing, for why would a man thank others who are doing nothing for him? They are passive recipients in most cases. It is that he perceives their presence as a favor to him. By viewing his task in terms of a business model which must be grown for his own sake, he thanks you. He is letting you know just how desirous he is for status and acclaim and how your presence has furthered him along in his pursuit. If this were not the case, he would not thank people for coming or listening. If he believed he were truly tasked with sharing eternal truth in God’s word, he would rather say that people forsake the hearing of it to their own eternal ruin. If there were to be any thanks issued on a personal level, why would it not rather be the other way around? Why wouldn’t the recipient be thanking the speaker? This is still ungodly without qualification, but makes more sense on the surface. They both ought rather be thanking God for giving them opportunity to worship him together, while acknowledging that they are both nothing before Him and equal before each other, despite differing gifts. Paul indeed thanks God for certain churches, but he never thanks them for listening to him. He thanks God for his mercy seen in them. There is a chasm of difference between the two. Can you imagine Paul saying to a gathered group of believers, “Thank you for coming.”? Or to put it in the most applicable and analogous terms, can you imagine a father telling his family, “Thank you for coming” as they gathered for breakfast? And then the mother saying, “Thank you for coming” to the children? It’s absurd. They are a family. Why should they be thanked for gathering as such? To thank God that they have a family to gather with is not at all the same as thanking the family for coming together. When a family gathers, they are all united in a mission. When a body of believers gathers, it is no different from a family, and in fact the purest lasting family as the bonds of Jesus’ blood are greater than the bonds of man’s. Unless the presence of such persons were perceived as a favor that stood to benefit one particular individual, there would be no thanks given.
When the Pharisees came to the baptism of John, here’s what he said, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7). There was no breath of pandering or people-pleasing in his statements. He did not thank people for listening. They ought rather to have thanked him for telling them of such important things. There is not a single instance, in all of scripture, of Jesus or His apostles ever thanking anybody for listening to them. This alone should stop all welling objections in their place. It is not accidental that this cannot be found. It is a contrast to be seen between those who seek the favor of God alone and those who seek the favor of men wittingly or unwittingly, though they do it in “God’s name”. Even as Jesus Himself makes it clear that masters do not thank servants for doing what they are supposed to do. Why then would anyone else thank them for obeying their own masters? “Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.” (Luke 17:9) If someone believes they are called by God to a task, then how can they possibly thank anyone else for any reason? It is only if they perceive it as something other than a call from God. Moreover, if that person believes the whole group are called by God to gather together as a body, then why would he thank them for doing their duty? You can begin to see the cunning works of Satan masked by these “innocent” words. The panderer sees you as helping increase his stock and wants you to know how much he appreciates it. He is secretly aiming at relevance, both immediately and sustained. And for the immediate, he is glad to have it. His heart betrays him with otherwise noble words. Even drug addicts and drunks say, “thank you” when they are given free drugs or alcohol. Their want of the thing is what engenders the gratitude when it is received. But gratitude does not sanctify the desire if it is evil. So to hear a simple, “Thank you for joining us.” manifests that there was a desire for them to be gathered for reasons of acquiring personal relevance, else he would have simply thanked God for allowing any of them to wake up and gather in His name and moved on.
Secondly, he wants his relevance sustained. In order to this sustenance, he needs to ensure a repeat customer, so to speak. Customers who feel appreciated and needed are psychologically manipulated into repeat purchases by giving them a false sense of identity. The marketing experts know this and employ it in their shrewdness. The more they let the customer know how grateful they are for them, the more likely the benefits from them are to be prolonged. There is scarcely a business on planet earth (with a good PR and marketing team) that does not employ these methods daily. You will see preemptive “thanks” given even in commercials to heap good feelings on potential customers or clients and boost the company’s image as one worthy of doing business with. Many so-called “churches” and would-be ministers do the very same in their marketing videos. You will often hear things like, “We just want to thank you for taking the time to check out our website and see the work God is doing here.” All of this pandering and flattery is to ensure a sustained relevance; get them and keep them. The quest for relevance, both immediate and sustained, may be motivated by several things, but as best I can discern there are two primary motives: 1. The applause of men, and 2. Money and/or job security.
Relevance can be chased for several reasons, but the applause of men is one of the greatest. We have cited Galatians 1:10 at the top of the article as the directing verse for just this reason. If it were not an inherent temptation in man Paul would not have said so: “Do I seek to please men?” People-pleasing is the essence of the fear of man. On the one hand you want men to be happy with you; giving them what they desire. On the other hand, you don’t want to incur their wrath; withholding from them what they disdain. In both cases the aim is to please someone other than God. Even many of the rulers in Jesus’ day believed in Him, but would not confess it because they feared the Pharisees and being put out of the synagogue, “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43). Everyone wants to be loved and adored, especially in the age of social media popularity and internet stardom where such things are more easily accessible than ever before. The temptation toward certain things can grow with ease of access and familiarity as we become desensitized by bad models around us. Rather than following the rules and practices as set forth in God’s word and by the Lord Jesus, the people-pleaser and the flatterer takes cues from his peers and joins the unwise in, “measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves.” (2 Corinthians 10:12). It’s no wonder Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). There are a thousand bad and ungodly examples for every good and godly example. But this only emboldens men to do what was already springing up in their desperately wicked hearts. They may even think that to deviate from whatever the common methods are is to be an outcast or “unwise” and by so thinking become fools themselves. This is to secretly disdain the counsel of God. Men tend to search for bad examples as for hidden treasure more than they do God’s word that they might justify their already wicked intents. “I’m pleasing men and this must be pleasing to God,” they say. “Even Paul said, ‘I also please all men in all things.’ and so shall I.” And they twist God’s word out of all context like the devil himself. “I’m encouraging them in the faith by uplifting them and making them smile.” Is this not what Satan does? Does he not pacify people in their sin and present to them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear? Those who think along this line are among the “prophets who envision futility and who divine lies… because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace.” (Ezekiel 13:9-10). But self-seeking men are in competition with others as they are slaves to pride. So many novices spring up at an exponential rate and “being puffed up with pride… fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6). They are not at all prepared to handle the temptation of people-pleasing and seeking their own glory and before you know it, they are headlong into a gimmick-driven life in which they cannot discern the right hand from the left. Yet even the veteran king Uzziah became proud in his strength and, “his heart was lifted up, to his destruction.” (2 Chronicles 26:16). Pride waits patiently for any and all who will give it a glance, knowing it swirls more smoothly and sparkles in the cup more magnificently than the choicest wine. But its final sting is worse than a dozen vipers.
The people-pleaser who wants the applause of men will not only flatter, but withhold depending on the appetite of his particular market. The same man who will flatter you with words, will evade your censure for the sake of your sustained applause of him. An accompanying sign to the man who panders with “Thanks for coming.” will be the withholding of controversial matters. But don’t be deceived. The Christian landscape is vast, having differing camps and persuasions whose appetites are necessarily as varied as their conception of “controversial”. So, it may not be obvious that two opposing parties are equally man-pleasing hypocrites. But understand that they will appeal to their market in a specific way. If their audience has an appetite for publicly shunning the likes of a Joel Osteen, they won’t hesitate to do it, because their people like it. But if the same audience would find it controversial to rebuke one who is generally regarded to be their theological ally they will avoid it and show partiality where a known error exists. In another case if their audience would cringe and balk at even the intimation of such a thing as publicly rebuking a Joel Osteen, they will shy away from it even if they know they should do it. On the surface two such groups would appear to be radically different, but in principle, they may be identical in their pursuit for relevance within their respective markets. Yet in both cases you will see the positive aspect of flattery; thanking people for coming, begging for likes and subscriptions etc. They only differ in the specifics they withhold. The man who loves applause generally knows he can’t gain all the applause in the world, but if he is trying to secure the applause of ANY, no matter how small, he is not pleasing God, but himself. At the very root of this is self-seeking, for the reason to please men rather than God is to ultimately serve yourself for some temporal advantage. And while men like this do “all their works they do to be seen by men” and because they love, “greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’” (Matthew 23:5&7), there is another glaring motivation: Money.
It’s no accident that marketing and PR tactics are employed by those who view themselves as employees of an organization. More often than not that’s precisely and simply what they are. Fame and applause are powerful, but the love of money must be equally as powerful in the quest for relevance; a root of all manner of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). By flattering the people (at least his base), one can more surely establish and sustain his career. This is what most “ministry” has become; nothing more than a career path that must be managed and cultivated like any other. The corporate ladder exists as much in Christendom today as it does on Wall Street. So the tendency to withhold that which might offend their particular audience is as much motivated by job security as it is by a desire to be esteemed and regarded. If McDonald’s put out a commercial castigating part of their consumer base for being obese, you can see that this would be bad for business. Sadly, that’s what Christianity has largely become these days; nothing but business. Incidentally many could be categorized as spiritually obese as well, even as, “Their heart is as fat as grease” (Psalm 119:70). The dictates of worldly business models rather than God’s word are the primary guiding factors for even many of the seemingly doctrinally astute. They will not offend the people who sign their paychecks lest they be out of a job. And the larger the organization, the more pressure there is to keep the base happy and continuing to donate regularly, lest many people be out of a job. So, in the event that God’s word clearly calls for something to be said or done which would offend the people they rely on as their effective employers, they will be loath to do it, but, “To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.” (Proverbs 28:21). And indeed, they do transgress for a piece of bread. How rare is the heart of the apostle who said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)? Partial and selective obedience is the stuff of the rejected king Saul. When one would claim that they are mostly faithful, a voice cries out, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14). And how many Samuels are willing to step in and hack Agag in pieces before the Lord, so to speak? (1 Samuel 15:33). To protect a paycheck over and above the truth of God and thereby cheat the souls of men is to sellout to the devil himself, and that’s precisely the heart of much (if not most) of Christianity today: “Your money perish with you…”(Acts 8:20)
Corruption is inevitably deeper than the surface would reveal fully, but there is always some sign. If we could not perceive fruits Jesus would not have said so. Only don’t redefine the term “fruits” to your own liking. If being busy or successful were synonymous with “fruit”, then Pharisees were fruitful in their zeal and crossing land and sea to evangelize and the prophets and apostles were unfruitful in their lack of perceived worldly success and being opposed by the corrupt religious leaders and establishment of their day. The signs of a flattering tongue and a panderer are there to be seen if we are willing to see. And if we see these signs, we can be sure that the heart is not what the whitewash would have us believe. Once the devil has got a foothold, the corruption worsens and your spiritual insights will suffer as a result. If a man who presumes to be ministering to God’s people is not himself knit with God’s heart, those souls will grow lean who listen as a result. It is your responsibility to be actively discerning and not passively receptive, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” (1 John 4:1). As our adversary the devil is cunning and wily in all subtlety, so too must our methods of testing be directed at those subtleties which he might employ, being ever “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) . The longer he has to gain entry into our lives by degrees, the more difficult it will be to perceive his increasing deceptions as he makes his home on the lips of some flattering, pandering “pastor” we enjoy. People often confuse pandering for patience and flattery for kindness. Remember the subtle snare of the fowler, hidden among the leaves and nearly invisible.
Jesus our pattern was the epitome of patience and yet never once pandered. Note the episode in John chapter 6. Verse 41 begins with, “The Jews then complained about Him.” And this would be enough for most to grovel at the feet of their employers and to satisfy their concerns. The same man who will thank you for coming, will beg for you to stay. But Jesus worked for no man. He instantly rebukes them saying, “Do not murmur among yourselves.” (John 6:43) and began to further give them difficult and hard sayings that were nevertheless spirit and life. Until finally, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66). But Jesus, far from pandering or begging them to stay, “said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?'” (John 6:67). So as one part of disciples (mind you) becomes offended and leaves, he turns to the twelve and shows them the door if they want it. Why would he do such a thing? Because Jesus had the singular aim of doing the will of His Father in heaven and pleasing Him alone. He was not concerned whether anyone liked Him or whether anyone esteemed Him as such, “but made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7). Whereas the people-pleasing ministers today are consumed by reputation and legacy; by applause and job security; by a fulfillment of selfish desires rather than God’s desires. They hope to have great biographies written about them and statues erected in their honor. They may say many true things, but do they withhold any good thing? If every word of God is pure and every concept therein, then to pander by withholding is to disunite from God Himself for, “No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11). If He will not withhold it, then the one who does cannot be from Him. Even Paul did not hesitate, “to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27). And neither did Paul or Peter or John the Baptist or Jesus Himself ever say, “Thank you for coming.” to anyone.
Again, this small phrase is a massive window into a heart interested in self-seeking and man-pleasing rather than God-pleasing. Using this template you will be able to more clearly discern other similar patterns of flattery in all their subtlety and deception. But knowing these things, happy are you if you do them for, “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him.” (Proverbs 7:21) Surely there are other things to be seen through this window. Does he take titles to himself like “Rabbi” or “Pastor”? Does he call himself “Pastor such and such” as a title? Jesus commanded against this in no uncertain terms, saying, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’… And do not be called teachers.” (Matthew 23:8&10). Is the man interested in networking for the sake of building a monument to himself? Does he shy away from known and vital error in his midst? Does he too readily accept the praises and accolades of men along with his titles? Does he tend toward gimmicks in his “ministry” and levity in his preaching or declaring God’s word; entertaining you with humor and anecdotes? To this point, the puritan Richard Baxter once wrote,
Of all preaching in the world, (that speaks not stark lies,) I hate that preaching which tendeth to make the hearers laugh, or to move their mind with tickling levity, and affect them as stage-players use to do, instead of affecting them with a holy reverence of the name of God.”
How few care to affect people with a holy reverence of the name of God, truly? Does he give any indication that he’s interested in carnally pleasing men whatsoever? Even as you cannot serve God and mammon, neither can you serve God and man. These are just some suggestions and points of consideration. It may be that a flattering man will not exhibit all of these. He may not preach in a humorous way and nevertheless be seeking the applause of men per his particular audience so to speak. But, if there’s a man inclined toward ministerial endeavors; even facilitating a prayer meeting in a house church and he thanks you for coming, you are more than likely dealing with the tongue of a reverse flatterer who is seeking much for himself and little for the Lord. According to the apostle Paul, if one seeks to please men, they are NOT bondservants of Christ (Galatians 1:10). As Death sits upon the pale horse and Hades follows behind them, so does envy sit upon self-seeking. And it is inevitable that behind them “…confusion and every evil thing are there.” (James 3:16). Read that again: EVERY EVIL THING! This is not to be toyed with. This is the leaven of the Pharisees; that hypocrisy which Jesus warned about (Luke 12:1). Right words accompanied with foul practice is indeed a snare for your soul; so craftily set as to be nearly invisible. You will learn to be like them, becoming hypocrites yourselves; perhaps twice as much even as Jesus said of the Pharisees’ converts, “you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) It will wax worse (growing as leaven does) and be a spiritual detriment to you and your family. And as spiritual blindness sets in, “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment.” (Proverbs 15:21)
But, thank the Lord that we are not ignorant of the devices of Satan, nor the craft of our own hearts and that by His word we can and must evaluate all things, it being a sure lamp to our feet. God, through His Word, makes us wiser than our enemies (Psalm 119:98). And by the Spirit we can and must put to death the deeds of the flesh and separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God’s word. Exercise yourself unto godliness, knowing that if you are truly crying out for discernment and understanding, the Lord will not withhold one good thing from you. He is perfectly Good and Almighty. If you abide (continue, dwell, remain, endure, stand, tarry) in Christ and His words abide in you, truly, you will ask whatever you desire and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7) If you are seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness all these things will become more clear. Seek Him. Seek Him!
P.S. If this author has ever engaged in such folly, he is unaware and repents before God admitting the error of his ways, if indeed it was to be found. May the Lord search our hearts and try us, revealing any crooked way in us that we might walk in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ.