In the end, serious reprimand is appreciated far more than boot-licking flattery. (Proverbs 28:23)
A rebuke is often coupled with the admonition to change one's ways, or else you will endure the consequences. To be reproved is to have one's behavior corrected - to provide direction as to how we should be acting or responding, rather than the way we did respond. Realizing that a reprimand carries with it the idea of both, how many of us would line up for a reprimand now? Having our behavior "pointed out" or "called out" is often quite uncomfortable for us. We get very self-conscious - when this happens, we want to "preserve" as much face as possible. So, we may become very skilled at trying to avoid the truth about our behavior - sometimes going to the extreme to cover it up! Having friends that do nothing more than lavish us with boot licking flattery is pretty lame. We call this "brown-nosing" today. I won't elaborate on that one!
I have endured both - if I were to be honest, I'd also have to tell you that I have been the instigator of both, as well. It is much easier to give a compliment and avoid conflict than it is to encounter a wrong behavior, or someone completely missing the mark. Flattery is really insincere speech of any kind - if we are not honest, we are probably engaging in a little flattery more than we might first like to admit. The difference between words of flattery and a reprimand is the result or outcome of those words. Flattery feeds my ego - a reprimand causes me to look at myself through the eyes of another which can sometimes give me a greater insight into where I am missing the mark than any other form of communication. A reprimand often exposes the unrealized results of my selfish behavior as it affects both my own walk, AND how it affects those around me. We don't live on an island all by ourselves - so, what we do and say affects more than ourselves.
A faithful friend will bring both words of encouragement (not flattery) and words of rebuke/reproof as warranted. Notice that I said "as warranted" - just being friends doesn't give us permission to constantly point out things that we don't like that another does. There are some things that we each do that aren't exactly the way another might do them, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way they do them! It is their way of doing them and we need to allow them the freedom to do those things in ways that they have become familiar with as long as those 'ways' don't hurt others, or lead that friend down a pathway that could lead to their ultimate harm.
Ever notice that it is much easier to accept encouragement or a rebuke from a friend? When relationship is established, the words have a different level of "hitting home". We may not appreciate a rebuke the first time we hear the words, but later, once we have had time to process them and the love with which they were spoken, we have a greater appreciation for both the reprimand and the friend who brought it. Let's be faithful in relationship to not only bring encouragement to each other, but to also add that element of "iron sharpening iron", as needed. When we are committed within relationship, there is no room for boot licking flattery! Just sayin!