Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Honor Thy Mother

by Tim Yates

Anna Jarvis began a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States when her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis passed away in 1905. Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at the St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She felt mothers sacrificed more for their children than any other person in the world. Unfortunately, in 1908 Congress rejected her idea. But after a period of careful consideration, her proposal gained momentum and by 1911 almost all American citizens began to observe the holiday. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor all mothers. Needless to say, Mother’s Day is a BIG deal in the United States and a BIG deal at Lewis Memorial Baptist Church. While Christmas and Easter are the big religious holidays, we also celebrate Mother’s Day with great joy.

The Bible also gives great honor to mothers. Quoting from the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16), Paul said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise: 3“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3). The word “honor” (timaō) means to assign value and to greatly revere. This same Greek word is translated “value” in Matthew 27:9. We are commanded in Scripture to honor, revere and value our parents and more specifically our mothers. Furthermore, God even adds an incentive for our obedience. He promises, “it will be well with you” and “you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:3). That’s a pretty big promise. So, what does it mean to “honor your mother?”

First of all, notice what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean wait until your mother is perfect, then honor her. If you wait until your mother is perfect before you honor her you are going to be waiting a long time. Why? Because your mother is imperfect, flawed, and fallen just like you. The command is to honor, respect, and value the position of motherhood, not necessarily her performance. The text doesn’t say wait until your mother is worthy of honor before you honor her. No! The text says, “Honor your mother.” The dignity of motherhood (position) deserves great honor regardless of personal worthiness (performance). Honor her position. Honor your mother.
Second, notice the penalty for dishonoring your mother. Moses said, “Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:16). God pronounced a “curse” on the son or daughter who mistreats their mother. If you disrespect your mother a curse will hang over your head like a dark cloud. This ill treatment is described as “contempt” which is dishonor or shame. Think about it. If you shamefully mistreat your mother, you will be placed under a curse. Contempt is the opposite of honor. Yet both are attitudes. Choosing to honor your mother is an attitude. It means to select honor over contempt regardless of her shortcomings and imperfections. If you have a bad attitude toward your mom, you’re going to have a hard time honoring her. Healthy attitudes translate into healthy actions. You don’t want to live under the darkness of a curse.  

Furthermore, Solomon gave us another strong warning. “If you insult your father and mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness” (Prov. 20:20 NLT). God frowns on disrespect and if you insult your mother, He will severely punish you… “total darkness.” The phrase “snuffed out” means to extinguish. In other words, God will put you in a very dark place. He will turn the lights out. The Bible is clear. You don’t want to mistreat or push away your parents, more specifically your mother (Proverbs 19:26; 30:11; 30:17). The command is to honor your mother.

Third, to honor your mother means to obey her. Throughout Scripture, we are commanded to honor our mothers with obedience. The Book of Proverbs exhorts us, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8). In most cases, moms understand your needs better than you do. And in most homes, the mother is the chief disciplinarian. Sometimes she will establish certain laws/boundaries in order to protect you. Why? One thing is for sure. Mom always has your best interest at heart. When you abandon your mom’s advice, you’re going to end up in trouble.

The second half of this proverb is repeated word for word in Proverbs 6:20. Again, the text cautions us, “do not forsake the law of your mother.” Mark it down. Your mom loves you and she always wants God’s best for you. Therefore, obey the wisdom of your mother. Listen to the body of truth she’s teaching. She wants to keep you safe. And she wants to keep you out of trouble. For instance, I heard my mother say a million times, “If you walk away from trouble there won’t be none.” Walk away from people who want to start trouble. STAY AWAY FROM TROUBLEMAKERS! I promise you it was very good advice (Prov. 10:1; 15:20). Respectfully listen to your mother’s advice, counsel, and instruction. Give her your ears, your heart, and your obedience. You will be glad you honored your mother with obedience.  

My mother never had a driver’s license, so she never drove a car. She was a stay-at-home mom. She cooked three times a day. In fact, we rarely ever ate at a restaurant. It was a big deal to go out to eat at Shoney’s. As a little boy at Barboursville Elementary School, I walked home every day at lunchtime to eat with my mother. As a teenager at Barboursville Junior High School, I walked home every day at lunchtime and ate with my mother. Yes, even as a teenager at Barboursville High School, I walked home every day and ate lunch with my mother. Her “table talks” were priceless. She prepared me for life around breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mealtime with Ma Betty was my classroom, and I will forever cherish those special times with my mother. I’m so thankful I learned to obey my mother.  

Fourth, honor your mother as a widow. Paul instructed the children and grandchildren to take care of their widowed mothers. He specifically commanded, “Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God” (1 Tim. 5:3-4). Paul used the same word “honor” in the context of widows. Honor, value, and take care of your mother when she becomes a widow. The responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of the children first and then the grandchildren. We must be educated or “learn” our responsibility. It must be “first” (priority) and not ignored. Caring (honoring) for my widowed mother is a part of my worship/responsibility to God. Paul says this “show” of “piety” is a demonstration of godliness. We are to “repay our parents” or give back to our widowed parents by taking care of them when they cannot take care of themselves. Even Jesus took care of His widowed mother. When He was on the cross “Jesus saw His mother” and He specifically requested John to take care of her. The Bible says, “And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home (John 19:26-27). Even on the cross, Jesus prioritized His family obligation. He honored and took care of His widowed mother.

“Honor your mother” is a command found in the Scriptures (Eph. 6:1-3). This important demand is even included in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). The timeframe to “honor your mother” is now. You don’t wait until she is worthy of honor (performance), you honor her now. She’s your mother. Honor her position (motherhood).  If you have “contempt” in your heart for your mother instead of “honor” a curse will hang over your head. Therefore, learn to take the commandment to “honor your mother” seriously. A healthy attitude about mom will translate into healthy actions. An attitude of honor, not dishonor. Furthermore, “to honor your mother” means to obey her. Follow her advice, live within her boundaries, and honor her with your obedience. Also, remember as a child or a grandchild you have family/biblical obligations. If your mother is a widow, then honor your mother as a widow. Take care of her physical needs. Give her your time, resources, love, and most of all your honor. If you honor your mother, God promises it will “be well with you” and “you will live a long life on the earth” (Eph. 6:3). By the way, that’s a pretty big incentive to “honor your mother.”
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