How can we increase our influence and persuasiveness with people? That is the question that Solomon answers today in our proverb. It has to do with being wise in our hearts before we decide to open our mouths. It also involves us learning to discern what do say in different situations in life - then saying it competently.
The wise in heart will be called understanding. Wisdom enters our hearts when we turn to the Lord as our primary source for learning and understanding our world around us. Proverbs chapter 2 reminds us that as we seek God for His wisdom and open our hearts to what He desires to teach us, "Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you." (Proverbs 2:10-11) When we have wisdom enter our hearts - we will be able to distinguish between things that honor and please God, and things that are worldly and please our flesh. When we have this ability the Spirit of God will teach and train us in the way of wisdom. The passage here says that we will gain a reputation over time - of being a discerning person. That is what the word "understanding" means here. It means to be someone who due to wisdom - can now understand situations and circumstances that cannot ordinarily be understood from human wisdom alone.
As this discernment increases and begins to catch the attention of others, There will also be multiple opportunities to speak that wisdom to benefit those around us. But Solomon offers us a little instruction. If we will use pleasant and sweet speech when speaking that wisdom to others - we will have our persuasive abilities increased. A harsh word or a mean-spirited one will stop communication before we can ever communicate wisdom. That is why we are warned to increase our persuasiveness by speaking with kindness. We are to speak the truth - but speak it in love. If we do not - often we will be tuned out and our opportunity to influence people for the Lord will be stopped.
We need to be men and women both of wisdom and of gracious communication of it. That will allow us to have the maximum amount of persuasiveness as we share the truth. Too often people want to share truth - but with too harsh an edge. Love people and speak the truth to them. As you do you will gain a repuatation for speaking sound and good things in your counsel. You also will have that counsel regarded - and appreciated by many who will call you a person of great discernment.