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Avoid flattery. Flattery confirms sinners in their evil desires by giving them praise. Avoid flatterers. Flatterers rivet souls to their sins. 

Those desirous to be holy usually seek anyone who is in a position to reprimand them, saying with the psalmist; "Let a good person strike or rebuke me in kindness." We sinners look for someone to heap praises on us.

Look for reproof, rather than praise. If your friend is good and kind, when he sees you are set to commit a sin, he will correct you in his kindness. 

It is the Lord who deigns to speak through the one who corrects his brother or sister. He speaks that his brother may not be lost.

The one who reprimands does not hate. He reprimands, precisely because he does not hate. And what is the result? "Reprove a wise person and he will love you."

Do not, therefore, run after praises which can make you a sinner; at the end you will only gather contempt. Instead love a good person who reproves you in his kindness.

St. Augustine (PL 37, I 815)



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