“Your home must be so beautiful.”
With a smile on her face, my Taiwanese neighbor gushed these words to me. “I’ve heard you have such a knack for decorating. You Americans add so many stylish touches, something we Taiwanese don’t do well,” she continued.
Flattered and a little confused, I invited her in. After all, she had never actually been inside our apartment.
“No,” she hesitated. “I’m busy at the moment, but I’d love to come by later in the week. How about Thursday afternoon about 1:00 p.m.?”
I assured her that would work, and she squeezed my arm as if to seal the date.
When Thursday arrived, the house was a little cleaner than it would have been if Mrs. Li had just dropped over. I had been ruminating on her words since our chat and decided to light a few candles to add to the ambiance of the soft background music. Yes, it was going to be nice to get to know my neighbors a bit more.
The doorbell rang. As I opened the door for Mrs. Li, I noticed that she was accompanied by two other guests. As I invited them all in, she explained that the Shiehs had just “dropped by” and were as interested in American decor as she was.
While she continued to rave, the Shiehs seemed intent upon every detail of my apartment. They asked questions about the curtains and the furniture, wanting to know just what was mine and what had been provided by the landlord. A little taken aback, my discomfort increased as they opened cabinets and checked out my closets.
About two weeks after the odd visit, the truth began to dawn.
Not only had I been flattered and deceived by Mrs. Li, she and her husband had also deceived our landlord. Through a series of lies and convoluted fraud, they were able to seduce our landlord into a money sham, which resulted in him losing ownership of our apartment. Within two days of discovering the truth, we were scrambling to move.
My husband and I learned a lot about the ugliness of deceit through that experience. Now, every time I read Romans 16:18, I can envision our visitors who, by their smooth and flattering speech … deceive(d) the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Learn from our mistakes and begin now to pray for protection against those who flatter and mislead. In fact, you may want to pray for the following as well:
- New Christians: the evil one is all about tripping them up in their newfound freedom.
- Children and teenagers: there are so many pitfalls in their pathway.
- Non-Christians: asking that they be guided into the way of Truth rather than continuing in a lie.
“Father, grant (name) protection against the powers of deception. Open their eyes to see Truth and recognize deceit for who he is. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Questions to consider: How have you seen deceit and flatter affect your life? How have you seen Him protect you from deceit and flattery?