Honor Thy Mother
Each year there is a day that is designated as Mother's Day in our nation. This is not because there is a Biblical direction for a special day to honor mothers, but it is a custom of our people as a nation. It is in harmony with the Biblical injunction to honor parents. There is no special religious ritual attached to Mother’s Day, nor is it placed as a special holy day by the New Testament Christian. But it is a time for expression of attitudes, and the exercise of a privilege to honor mothers. This honoring of mother, like that of honoring father, is a duty taught in the Word of God whether or not we have a special day called Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Why do we have such a special day as Mother’s Day? The actual observance of this day grew from a modest beginning in 1872 as a day dedicated to peace. On May 9. 1914 then President Woodrow Wilson signed a resolution of Congress commending its observance. The next year the President was authorized to declare Mother’s Day as a day of national observance, and it has been a national custom to this day.
But the honoring of motherhood is not of man, but of God. We honor mothers, not because of a Congressional resolution, but because of a divine teaching. We honor mothers, not just one day of the year, but throughout the year. In ancient times, as today, motherhood was considered a great and special blessing. God commanded through Moses, “Honor thy father and thy mother....” (Exodus 20:12). The same teaching is in the new covenant in Ephesians 6:2.
Our day is often characterized among many with a glaring and obvious disrespect for age, the past, parents, and authority. We could wish this day might be a day of real significance in learning more perfectly the will of the Lord regarding respect for parents. Proverbs 30:11, "There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother." This could be said of many in our time.
Meaning of Honoring Mother
What does it mean to honor your mother? It may include paying her a visit, giving her a gift, sending her a card, making a telephone call to her, writing her a letter, even wearing a special flower on that day to commemorate whether she is living or dead. All these things are nice. But there are much, much more things of deeper significance. To honor means to regard and treat with great respect and esteem. The very definition includes both the heart and the manifestation of the attitude in the heart. It is a disposition toward mother that demonstrates itself in deeds.
This would include the way we speak to her and of her. While many may consider it old fashioned, but referring to mother by her first name seems to place her on the level no different from any other. But mothers are on a level that demands more consideration, special consideration, than other relationships. Our address of her should reflect this unique relationship and her rank and position. It is a serious mistake to speak of her as “the old woman” because many use that terminology to convey disrespect. There is no more warm and beautiful term than to simply call her, Mother, or similar words that denote she is in a special place in the heart and life This discarding of formality between parent and child does something to detract from the respect children owe parents. We acknowledge that parents are friends. But they are far more than just other friends. They are parents. They deserve recognition that they are not just another among others.
Honoring mother cannot be separated from obedience to her, especially while under her charge and care. Ephesians 6:1 teaches children to obey parents. This is commanded just before and is based upon the teaching to honor father and mother. How could one think he honors his parents if and when he ignores and disobeys them? Proverbs 1:8, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”
Obedience to parents must be taught and learned. Children do not come into this world naturally knowing to be obedient. They have to be trained to obey authority. Disrespect for authority, just as respect for authority, is learned, and this learning begins in the home. The lawlessness, rioting, immoral conduct, all reflect the breakdown of respect for authority in the home where parents have failed in guiding aright their children. We see all around us in society the dire results of disrespect for authority, the evils of indulgence, spoiled and bratty children whose parents never taught them to obey. The most frustrated young people today are those who have not been taught to respect authority. They do not even know right from wrong, nor how to make decisions because they have been given no basis by which to govern their lives. Children who are taught to obey parents and love parents will have a completely different approach to life and toward God as well as all other authorities under which they will be subjected in life. It begins with parents and must be followed by children. While there are certain commendable interests manifested in the "buddy" relationship with parents, we dare not let it reduce itself to the point that respect and honor for parents as parents is diminished.
Honoring parents includes caring for them in their time of need. Proverbs 23:22, “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.” Common sense, fair play and natural affection shows that we should care for those who cared for us. Who has cared for us more than mother? Of course, we speak of mothers who are honorable and who attend to their prime duties. It is unfortunate that many women have been led astray from their prime work into paths of selfish gratification of their own ambitions to the neglect of their children.
First Timothy 5 6 reads, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." The Jews in the time of Jesus were in line for condemnation when they neglected the care of their needy parents. Matthew 15:4. “Honor thy father and mother, and he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” He went on to show that they, by their traditions, had set aside this commandment of God. They did not use their resources to provide for their parents by contending they had already committed their substance to something else, as if that relieved them of their divinely appointed responsibility. Surely, parents who have given their very lives for the benefit of their children should not be cast aside when they grow old. This smacks more of paganism and heathenism than Christianity. We set aside a command of God to fail to provide care for their needs in their hour of need.
We honor mothers when we show genuine love for them. This includes more than merely sentiment. We may take it for granted that our mothers know we love them, but it is proper that we make special effort to let them know we do. This warms their hearts and encourages them as well us, giving us opportunity to render honor to whom honor is due. Mothers do not grow too old to receive affection. The embrace of a child regardless of her age or the child’s age is a part of the small reward children can give parents. Proverbs 15.20, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.” What a brilliant light of joy is cast into the life of a mother when her children show their love and affection for her. One of the saddest stories I have ever heard was that of a mother who was burned and scarred when saving the life of her son from flames. She became stooped and bent with work and sacrifice to educate him. But on the day of his graduation he was so ashamed of her appearance that he refused to even introduce her to his friends. Hell could not be too hot for such people! How could anyone ever reduce himself or herself to be ashamed of a godly mother? It is beyond reason and deplorable in any language.
Manner of Life
But is there a way to honor mother more effectively than to live a godly life? Words may fail to adequately express our feelings toward her. Our contact with her may be limited because of various circumstances that come in life. We may be able only to show through gifts that we care. But whether your mother be living or dead, carrying forward in your own life the way of God that she taught you, that she lived before you, is the greatest manifestation of honor that you can bestow upon her.
Why is this true? It is true because you not only honor her, but you honor what she honored above all else. You honor God!
Someone has said that there is no mother like the mother that reared us. We add to that, there is no blessing any greater than a godly mother. I am among those who know this blessing.
It is still true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. The world needs mothers who love the Lord and guide their young in His paths. Mothers have such tremendous burdens and responsibilities. They exert such care and concern, and often without the resources she really needs. Their hearts surely are the biggest in the world. Their children are their prime interest and concern as they serve God. Let us honor them for their work's sake. Pray for each one as they strive to please God and do their duty. When they reach the sunset of life, do not fail to keep them on the pedestal they deserve in your heart. They are among those to whom honor is due. For these reasons we can be glad we have mothers, Mother’s Day, and God’s teaching concerning mothers.
Possibly we who are Christians need to be busier than we are encouraging young mothers in their role in life. There is no nobler work in the kingdom of God than the kind and molding hand of a mother whose loyalty is to Christ, her husband, and her home.
1. Who commanded us to honor our parents?
2. How can parents make this an easy commandment to obey?
3. How do we honor our parents when we are young?
4. How are we to honor them in later years?