When speaking to others, we often choose words meant to make the other person feel good. Many preachers likewise preach sermons for the sole purpose of making the congregation feel better about themselves. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. However when soothing words are used in place of firm, truthful words that may sting, great harm arises.
Consider the case of the king of Israel.
He asked the king of Judah to go with him into battle against Ramothgilead (1 Kings 22:4). Jehoshaphat, king of Judah replied yes, because he thought of them as one people. The king of Judah prudently thought it good to inquire of God about the battle (vs. 5). So the king of Israel called all the prophets together and asked about the battle. All of them, about 400, said they should indeed go up to battle (vs. 6).
This is apparently what the king of Israel wanted to hear. It must have made him feel good to be told that God would bless their effort in the battle.
Unfortunately for him, this is not actually what he needed to hear. The king of Israel needed the truth and not soothing words.
Jehoshaphat must not have believed the 400 prophets and asked if there was not a prophet of the Lord there (vs. 7). There was indeed a true prophet of the Lord there, Micaiah, but the king of Israel didn’t like him because “he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil (vs. 8). Still the king sent for Micaiah and the one sent told him all the words of the prophets were good and urged him to do the same (vs. 13).
Being a man of God, Micaiah declared that “as the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak” (vs. 14). And in the end, that is exactly what he did (vs. 17), even saying that the 400 prophets of the king of Israel had lied (vs. 22).
It would have been better for the kings had they inquired of the Lord before determining to go up against Ramothgilead. It would have been better if the 400 prophets told the king of Israel the truth rather than simply trying to make him feel good.
Likewise, sometimes it is better to hear the words of truth that hurt rather than soothing words that lie. We don’t want to become like the Galatians that caused the apostle Paul to say, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth??” (Gal. 4:16).
Love others enough to tell them what they need to hear whether or not it makes them feel good.
In Christ, Steve Preston