He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
Precious wisdom! A man with a pure heart has gracious speech, so that great men choose him as their friend. It begins with a pure heart - one free from all bitterness, envy, guile, hypocrisy, malice, pride, or selfishness. Such hearts use gracious words - acceptable, agreeable, courteous, forgiving, gentle, kind, merciful, and pleasing words. The combination is so delightful and rare that noble men are instantly and deeply drawn to it.
Graciousness is the most beautifying character trait. A gracious person is often described as a beautiful or charming person. Whether man or woman, graciousness makes a person delightful, pleasant, and winning. It is a rare and sweet pleasure to meet one. And this trait is most clearly shown by excellent speech. You will meet only a few in life; they will have great reputations; they will warm your soul; and you will crave their company.
Consider that Solomon, a king, admitted weakness for gracious men! He had heard about the friendship between his father David and Prince Jonathan, where David's gracious speech had won Jonathan in a few moments (I Sam 17:57 - 18:4). Though David was a lowly shepherd and yet a threat to his future reign, Jonathan loved him as his own soul! Why? Because David's heart was free from any ambition, guile, pride, or selfishness!
So he taught graciousness. He said a gracious woman is always revered (Pr 11:16). If a woman has few friends and is disliked, she needs graciousness. It is her odiousness - the opposite of graciousness - that turns others away (Pr 30:23). A virtuous woman speaks very cautiously and discreetly, and then only with kindness (Pr 31:26). She only says acceptable things, and she only says them at acceptable times. The meek and quiet spirit of desirable women, which God and men admire, is a large part of graciousness (I Pet 3:3-4).
An unwanted woman must examine herself through the ears of others. The best things she can do are to reject all critical and negative thoughts and cut her words in half. A beautiful woman without the gracious discretion to know what to say and when to say it is like a jewel of gold in a pig's nose (Pr 11:22)! Her words and manners keep reminding you of the hairy pig wearing the little piece of gold! When an average or ugly woman does not have gracious discretion, words fail to describe the horror of this creature!
He also taught that wise men speak graciously, but fools destroy themselves with their words (Ec 10:12). While he attached the critical adjective "odious" to women, he attached "froward" to men. A froward man is difficult, harsh, obnoxious, perverse, and unreasonable; he is the opposite of gracious. Kings delight in righteous speech (Pr 16:13), for they want counselors and ambassadors that advise and represent them well. Solomon highly praised pleasant words (Pr 10:20,32; 12:18; 15:23; 16:21,24; 24:26; 25:11).
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of graciousness. David prophesied of His gracious lips (Ps 45:2). When He first spoke in His hometown of Nazareth, the skeptics were amazed at his gracious speech (Luke 4:22). Even his enemies had to admit that no man had ever spoken like Him (John 7:46). Scripture is full of His gracious words, coming from the purest heart (John 4:6-30; 8:10-11; 9:37; 11:25-26; 18:1-26; 20:16; 21:1-14).
Graciousness begins with a pure heart. Bitterness, envy, or strife in the heart is from hell, and leads to all sort of confusion and evil (Jas 3:14-16). A man's speech simply reflects his heart (Luke 6:45), so you must keep your heart with all diligence (Pr 4:23). If your heart is cheerful, contented, forgiving, kind, and thankful, you will think gracious thoughts. You must reject all sinful thoughts of bitterness, envy, evil surmising, malice, or revenge.
A pure heart produces gracious speech. Paul said, "Let your speech be alway with grace" (Col 4:6). He told the Ephesians to avoid all corrupt speech and focus on words that build others up; he said that a tenderhearted spirit based in kindness and forgiveness was right, but that bitterness, wrath, malice, and evil speaking were wrong (Eph 4:29-32). If you think kindly about others, rule your spirit, and guard your tongue, you will be gracious!
Reader, lay hold of wisdom! This proverb is pure gold! If you seek to grow in favor with God and men, there is no better way than graciousness. By starting with your heart and thoughts about others, you will have the internal fountain for gracious words. The perfect place to practice is at home with spouse, parents, children, or siblings, where you are generally the least gracious. With the blessing of God, the king will soon be your friend!
What else can you do? Listen more; talk less (Pr 17:27). Promote others (Phil 2:3-4). Learn to live charity (I Cor 13:4-7). Avoid folly (Eccl 10:1). Hate jesting (Eph 5:4). Be cheerful (Pr 15:13,15). Be content (Heb 13:5-6). Exalt mercy (Jas 2:13). Develop pitiful compassion (I Pet 3:8). Eliminate moodiness (Pr 16:32). Overlook others' faults (Pr 19:11). Make peace (Jas 3:17-18). Only say what is acceptable to others (Pr 10:32). Praise others (Pr 12:25). Hate the limelight (Num 12:3). Despise envy (Pr 14:30). Don't be a busybody (I Pet 4:15).
And pray for it! David had a pure heart, because he asked the Lord to search and perfect his heart (Ps 139:23-24). Pray for a greater measure of the Spirit of God in your life, so that you will bear the gracious fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Any man or woman bearing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will be gracious! He will be incredibly gracious! She will be a new creature!
Forget what you think about yourself! Graciousness is what others feel about you - God and good men. Most odious people think themselves gracious, and most gracious people think themselves odious! It is this arrogance of spirit or humility of spirit that makes a person either odious or gracious! Humble yourself before God's word! Reject your pride! Others certainly don't miss your abrasive and irritating words and manners. If you have few friends, especially noble men, craving your presence, you are likely odious!
Parents, teach your children graciousness! Instead of wasting your life and their minds with the profitless drivel of today's profane education model, work on this great character trait that pleases God and men. It will do more for their future success than memorizing the periodic table of elements! Can you define graciousness? Can they define it? Can you illustrate it daily in their sibling relationships? Can you apply it to the various situations with people we encounter everyday? Study the word! Meditate on it! Live it! Require it!
If Christians were more gracious in their speech, others would be attracted to their religion. Since the Founder and Teacher of Christianity, the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, had a perfectly pure heart and totally gracious speech, it is a disgraceful shame when His so-called followers have neither! Honor your Saviour and defend His religion by a pure heart and gracious words!