Every second Sunday of May, Americans, Filipinos, and countless others around the globe celebrate Mother’s Day. This celebration centers on honoring mothers. Although this tradition originated in ancient pagan festivals, the motive embedded in this tradition is biblical. In fact, God in his fifth commandment demands that we honor our mothers: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exod. 20:12).
Unfortunately, many children remember to honor their mothers only on Mother’s Day. They forget that honoring their mothers is their daily duty to God. Of course, our mothers are not perfect; they commit mistakes. Yet, we must still respect them in the Lord. If we ever disagree with them, let us do so using respectful language and gestures. Remember that when we disrespect our parents we sin not only against them but also against God, for God has commanded us to honor them.
Do you honor your mother? Here are three ways you can honor her.
First, prize them. To honor our parents means to place a high value upon them. Our mothers, despite all their shortcomings, are precious gifts from God, and thus we must treasure and love them. Remember, our mothers will not always be around with us. Most likely they will die before we do; while they are still alive, let’s tell them how much we appreciate them. Let’s show them our love in word and in deed. Sadly, it is when they are gone that we begin to realize how precious they were to us. Don’t wait until their funeral to say words of appreciation.
When was the last time you thanked and appreciated your mom? Again, she may have many flaws, but she is still your mom.
Second, provide for them. In Matthew 15:4, Jesus understands the fifth commandment as referring to both submission to and provision for our parents. As God enables us, we should help our mothers (especially our widowed mothers) in their physical, material, or financial needs. If you grew up with a caring and responsible mom, think of what she had done for you from the time you were born until you became an adult. For several months she carried you in her womb; she fed you, changed your diaper, rocked you to sleep in the middle of the night, took care of you when you were sick, and the list goes on and on. The least thing that we can do in return for our mothers’ loving care for us is help them in their time of need. The truth is we cannot pay them back for all the many good things that they have done and continue to do for us, even in our adulthood.
Are you concerned with your mother’s welfare?
Third, pray for them, especially for their spiritual life. And pray for them regularly. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. If your mother is not yet saved, ask God to grant her faith in his Son, for the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). If you have a godly mother, thank God for that tremendous blessing. As Abraham Lincoln once declared, “No man is poor who has a godly mother.” Indeed, the “mother is the central sun of the child’s early life, and without her it is a poor home.” I thank and praise God for giving me such a loving and God-fearing mother. Part of what I am today, I owe to my dear mother.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have failed to honor our mothers as we should. There’s only one person who honored his mother as he should. His name is Jesus. Born under the law (Gal. 4:4), Jesus honored Mary (his earthly mother) and Joseph (his foster father). Jesus indeed kept the fifth commandment perfectly, so that through his perfect obedience to the law, we who are sinners may be justified through faith in him.
And here’s our comfort: Yes, we are all guilty of not honoring our mothers as we should. But we can always come to God for forgiveness. We can borrow the words of the prodigal son in Luke 15:21 and apply it to our mothers:: “‘Mother, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” Our heavenly Father delights to forgive repentant sinners (1 John 1:9). We trust, too, that our mothers will pardon us, “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
The command to honor our mothers should humble us before God, because it makes us realize that apart from God’s help we cannot honor them according to God’s standard.
Rev. Brian G. Najapfour
(ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) has been a minister of the gospel since 2001 and has served both in the Philippines and in the United States. He is the author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Tongue. He blogs at biblicalspiritualitypress.org