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“Honor your father and your mother” is the fifth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12). Though we do not live under the Old Testament law today, God brought nine of those commandments into the New Testament, including this one (Ephesians 6:1-3). Giving Mom a card and a box of chocolates on the second Sunday in May is fine, but God makes it clear in His word that honoring your mother goes far beyond a man-made annual holiday. How does God say we should honor our mothers?

Love her! Young children seldom have to be told to do this. It comes naturally. The Scriptures call it “natural affection” (2 Timothy 3:3). It is the warm, tender devotion that you feel toward close family members. This very passage, however, warns of the danger of suppressing or even losing that natural affection. Cultivate love for your mother every day, not just “Mother’s Day.”

Obey her! “Children, obey your parents” (Ephesians 3:20). Even Jesus submitted to His mother and Joseph (Luke 2;51). When I hear a young child defiantly saying “No!” to Mama (or Daddy), I see red! Parents who fail to correct such impudence swiftly and effectively (including some firm swats to the posterior) are inviting disaster. That leads to the next point.

Speak respectfully to her! Sassiness and back-talk are not limited to small children. Though He was older, Jesus spoke respectfully to His mother and Joseph, even when correcting them (e.g. at the Temple, Luke 2:48, 49). No matter how old we are, we ought always to speak respectfully to our parents. Under the Mosaic Law, cursing a parent was a capital offense (Exodus 21:7). While this penalty is not in effect under the New Testament, it speaks volumes about the importance God assigns to speaking respectfully to our parents.

Never hit her! This was another capital crime under the Law of Moses (Exodus 21:15). Of course this dealt with older children, not toddlers! A small child sometimes defiantly slaps his mother if he isn’t getting his way. Worse, parents sometimes allow children to suffer no consequences for such obnoxious behavior! Little ones may not know any better at first, but they will learn quickly if parents discipline them promptly and consistently. I have also known of cases where older children beat their parents; such conduct is criminal according to the laws of both God and men.

Provide for her in her old age. Jesus rebuked the Jews of His day for evading their responsibility to provide for their aged parents (Matthew 15:4ff). Although popular culture looks to civil government to fulfill the need, Paul teaches that it is first and foremost a family obligation, and secondarily the responsibility of the church (1 Timothy 5:4).

Honor your mother!

Joe Slater
via Broadway church of Christ
Campbellsville, KY

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