He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
How do you find a fool? Listen! If you hear a person talking loudly, quickly, critically, or a lot, you have found a fool. A man with knowledge uses few words and only talks when necessary. A man with understanding is calm, careful, gracious, and helpful. If you are a fool, close your mouth - you may be able to deceive others into appreciating you (Pr 17:28)!
Could a blind man find you in a crowd? Are you usually talking? Are you more interested in telling about yourself than asking about others? Are you more interested in winning a discussion than hearing others' views? Is your volume on the high side, your tone a little arrogant and cutting, or your comments somewhat critical and negative? You are a fool!
You have met men and women with an excellent spirit. They are very rare in the world, but you have met a few. You were totally at ease with them, honored by their presence, secure in your person, and charmed by their gentleness and kindness. You loved being around them, and you wished you could be like them. What was their distinctive trait?
It was gracious speech! Think about it! It is that simple! Even kings love those who talk graciously (Pr 22:11). Wise men use gracious words (Eccl 10:12). Gracious women are always adored (Pr 11:16). Our perfect Lord astounded men with his gracious words (Ps 45:2; Luke 4:22). And Paul taught it as the basis of acceptable speech for all (Col 4:6).
But fools are odious! And they are rightfully hated. They must always be talking (Eccl 5:3). They have an opinion, a retort, an idea, or a suggestion. A fire burns in their mouths. They relieve it by babbling. Their talk is mischievous madness (Pr 13:16; Eccl 10:12-14). They talk without thinking (Pr 15:28). They are so irritating you want to beat them (Pr 18:6-7)!
Do you want an excellent spirit, winning delight and favor with God and men? Shut up (Pr 17:28; 10:19)! Listen raptly to others (Pr 18:13; 29:11; Jas 1:19)! Study before answering (Pr 15:28)! Learn something of value to share (Pr 15:2; 16:23)! Be slow to speak (Pr 29:20; Jas 1:19)! Hate your opinions and thoughts (Pr 26:12)! Confess your idiocy (Pr 30:2-3)! Measure yourself strictly by the number of noble men craving your presence (Pr 10:21; 18:24; 22:1)!
Will you learn more about speech? The words of your tongue reveal your heart (Matt 12:35). Critical, harsh, or negative words reveal a black heart. Gracious speech begins in a pure heart (Pr 22:11). If you cannot say something kind and wise, do not talk, ever (Pr 31:26). Many words will always include sin (Pr 10:19). Pray about your speech (Ps 19:14). Ruling your speech to the praise of God and men means you are perfect (Jas 3:2). Lord, help!