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Honoring your mother, father

“Honor you father and your mother, that you days may be long in the land that the Lord you God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

Today, I don’t need to tell you that there is a widespread disregard for parental authority. We see this disrespect for and lack of parental authority in our schools and throughout our culture.

We live in a day when “children’s rights” are becoming the norm. Children can now “divorce” their parents. Corporal punishment and even the deprivation of certain privileges such as television are being questioned more and more.

Today, it is increasingly common for children to hold their parents in low regard. Moms and dads are seen as obstacles to be overcome, rather than as wise guides to be followed and copied. And parents disregard their teenage children’s disobedience as “just a phase they’re going through,” when it is really outright rebellion!

The home is the foundational building block of any civilized society. No nation is stronger than the family structure that makes it up. And it is safe to say that our family structure and our nation are crumbling! So this Mother’s Day, I hope we can be reminded once again of the critical importance of parents. Today, we emphasize mothers just a little more and Father’s Day maybe we’ll be able do the same for fathers.

Before we go any further, what does it mean to “honor” our parents? The Hebrew word for “honor” comes from a verb which means “to be heavy” or “to give weight.” The same word is often translated “glory” in reference to the Lord. So to honor our parents means that we elevated them to a place of importance and reverence. This is not just surface or superficial actions, such as saying “Yes sir,” or “Yes ma’am,” as important as they may be. “Honor” demands a profound respect that governs all relations with the honored.

How do we honor our parents? The first four Commandments, when obeyed, give us a deep love for God, so we can love God with all our heart and soul and strength. R. Kent Hughes puts it well, “The dynamism of the vertical love for God then makes it possible to love others with a greater love! So it follows that the deeper our love for God, the greater our capacity to love others.”

So with that vertical love of God firmly in place, we come to the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

This is the divine formula for domestic blessing which can guide and help restore the family unit. It contains indispensable advice for both growing children and maturing adults. This is God’s commandment for both young and old.

This Mother’s Day we are reminded of the need to honor our mothers and recognize the special love they offer us. As the unknown poet writes:

A mother’s love is something that no one can explain,

It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain,

It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may,

For nothing can destroy it or take that love away…

Prayer: Father, this Mother’s Day remind us to honor our parents. We thank You for Your Word that reminds us that our love for others must first be rooted in our love for You. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jim Thorpe is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Atmore.