“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12 (NIV)
As we know, the second Sunday in every May is designated as Mother’s Day. This is not because there is a biblical direction for honouring our mothers but it has become the custom of the world. Mothers are so important that, we are going to spend the next two weeks reflecting on how God sees women and how we, mothers, women and daughters should see ourselves. Our prayer is that our men – boys, fathers, brothers, nephews, uncles and grandfathers will see us with the same lenses God sees us.
The Origin of Mother’s Day
Anna Jarvis is known as the “Mother of Mother’s Day,” for her long crusade to see the occasion adopted as such. Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a campaigner and a peace activist was a Sunday school teacher who charged her Sunday school class about mothers in the Bible and spent much of her time caring for wounded soldiers on both sides of the civil war. She organized in the late 1800s “Mothers Day Work Club” which tackled public health issues. Ann Reeves Jarvis prayer was that someone one day will find a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she rendered to humanity in every field of life. After her death, her daughter, Ann Jarvis vowed to push for a national day to commemorate Mothers and arraigned for white carnations to be handed to mothers in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia where her mother was a Sunday school teacher. Ann Jarvis was however, a bit irked and bothered when she saw that President Woodrow Wilson had gotten the credit of establishing Mother’s Day.
Our day is often characterized among many with a glaring and obvious disrespect for age, the past, parents, and authority. We could wish Mother’s Day might be a day of real significance in learning more perfectly the will of the Lord regarding respect for parents. Proverbs 30:11 states “There are those who curse their father, and do not bless their mother.” – NIV. This could be said of many in our time too.
Influence of Women in the Bible
Mothers are very important in God’s agenda so believe it or not they are mentioned 226 times in the Bible. The first mother, Eve, was called the “mother of all living” – Gen. 3:20. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was called the “mother of nations” – Gen. 17:16. Moses’ mother gave her own child away to an Egyptian princess just to spare his life. Samuel’s mother dedicated her son to the Lord at a very young age. King Solomon reminded young -people in Proverbs 4 not to forsake the law of their mother. Young Timothy’s leadership was based on the prayers of his faithful mother Eunice and grandmother Lois.
Meaning of Honouring Mother
Honouring 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 honour 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 Testament in Ephesians 6:2-3 – “Honour your father and your mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Honouring our mother 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 to commemorate her birthday. All these things are nice. But there are much, much more things of deeper significance. To honour 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.
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, Maa, Maame or similar words that denote she is in a special place in the heart and life. Mothers are parents and they deserve recognition that they are not just another among others people.
Why Does God Want us to Honour our Mothers?
God knows that when we honour and love our mothers, everyone wins. God wins, our mothers win and we also win. Proverbs 10:1 teaches that when we foolishly do not honour our mothers, we bring grief to them. Many mothers literally die of broken hearts because of the selfishness and waywardness of their adult children. The Bible teaches that there is a spiritual law of reaping and sowing. As the famous movie “Gone With the Wind” reminds us, the person who brings trouble on his family will only inherit the wind – Proverbs 11:29. Honouring our mothers is in our own best interests.
It is very easy to focus on our parent’s flaws. Proverbs 15:20 says “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” Have you ever noticed the number of interesting swear-words that involve the use of the term ‘mother’? There is so much anger and hatred in our culture towards the feminine gender. Proverbs 30:17 symbolically says that those who dishonour their mothers will have their eyes pecked out by the ravens and vultures. To fail to honour our mothers is to reject motherhood to go blind to the things that really matter in life. Honouring our mothers is not a multiple-choice option.
To be continued!