Have you ever started a show on television and seen this warning?
The following program contains mature language. Viewer discretion is advised.
We all know what “mature language” means, but I wonder why they call it “mature.” We have a way of sanitizing things, don’t we? Shouldn’t they just tell us there’s going to be some cussing or swearing or profanity or words you don’t hear in church? Why would anyone ever call that kind of language “mature”? Is it really “mature” to use those words? I think those warnings give “mature” a bad rap.
I’m all in favor of using “mature” language, but not in the way these warnings define it. Here’s an alternative definition of “mature” language from the Bible in Ephesians 4:29 and few rules to help us.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Rule #1 – If it’s unwholesome, hold it in. If a word is dirty, foul, or obscene don’t say it! If you need some help on what words fit into that category, ask your grandmother. She remembers. People let far too many words fly from their mouths without passing them through the wholesome filter or, for that matter, any filter at all. We would all do a lot better by holding some words in. That would include gossip, insults, and course jokes. Keeping your mouth closed may be the most mature thing you can do.
Rule #2 – Use language that builds up. Everyone loves and needs to hear words that encourage them. Tell people how well they are doing. Tell people how much you appreciate them. Tell people what good qualities you see in them. Your words can either make someone stronger or weaker. Choose those words that make people stronger.
Rule #3 – Use language that meets other’s needs, not your own. Stop telling people how great you are. Stop bragging about your accomplishments. Stop interrupting people when they are talking. One of the best ways to meet people’s needs is to ask questions and really listen. Ask people about their weekends. Ask people what’s going on in their lives. If you want to meet people’s needs, you have to know those needs. Mature language is concerned about other people. Mature language draws out the thoughts and feelings of others.
Rule #4 – Be graceful. The word translated “benefit” in Ephesians 4:29 is the same word that is translated in other places as “grace.” Grace is often used to describe God’s forgiveness towards us. Use forgiving words. Use words that affirm someone’s value and your love for them even when they mess up. You don’t have to remind people of their faults. You don’t have to hold grudges. Mature language communicates forgiveness.
Now that you know what “mature” really means, let it fly. I think we’d all do well to use mature language.