ďHONOR THY MOTHERĒ

Exodus 20.12

 

EXPOSITION:

1.   Good morning, ladies.  Today is Motherís Day, and in a few minutes weíre going to give each of you moms a little something to express our feelings toward you and to recognize your unparalleled role in our lives.  But first, let me bring everyone up to speed with a brief history of Motherís Day. [1]

2.   The earliest Motherís Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

3.   During the 1600s, England celebrated a day called ďMothering Sunday.Ē  Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), ďMothering SundayĒ honored the mothers of England.

4.   During this time many of Englandís poor worked as servants for the wealthy.  And since most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers.  On Mothering Sunday the servants were given the day off and were encouraged to return home to spend the day with their mothers.  A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

5.   As Catholic Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the ďMother ChurchĒ - the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm, or so they thought.  Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration.  People began honoring their mothers as well as the Church.

6.   In the United States Motherís Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace.  Miss Howe organized Motherís Day meetings in Boston, Massachusetts, every year.

7.   In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Motherís Day.  Miss Jarvis persuaded her motherís church in Grafton, West Virginia, to celebrate Motherís Day on the second anniversary of her motherís death, the 2nd Sunday of May.  By the next year Motherís Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

8.   Miss Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessmen, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Motherís Day.  They were successful.  By 1911 Motherís Day was celebrated in almost every state.  In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Motherís Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

9.   While many countries of the world celebrate their own Motherís Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Motherís Day on the second Sunday of May.

10. It should come as no surprise that the public and formal recognition of mothers each year in modern times would become popular in western culture, so profoundly affected for so many centuries by Christianityís high view of women and mothers, even if it was Roman Christianity.

11. After all, there is a solidly Biblical foundation upon which not just an annual and formal honoring of mothers is based, but a continual and deeply ingrained honoring of mothers at all times, as well.  Turn to Exodus 20.12 and you will see what I mean.

12. God gave to Moses ten commandments written on two small tablets of stone.  On the first tablet were written four commandments, setting forth oneís responsibility toward God.  On the second tablet were written six commandments, setting forth oneís responsibility toward your fellow man.

13. The fifth commandment, which is the first commandment on the second tablet of the Law, and the beginning of those declarations describing how to love our neighbors as ourselves, contains the directive to ďHonour thy father and thy mother.Ē  On this Motherís Day I will limit my comments to the command to honor your mother.

14. What does it mean to honor your mother?  I am indebted to Matthew Henry for his wonderful insights on this subject.  There are five: 

1A.   First, YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD YOUR MOTHER SHOWS YOUR HONOR OF HER

1B.    You should have a decent respect for your mother as a person.  Your inward estimation of your mom should be outwardly expressed at all times by your proper and respectful conduct toward her.

2B.    Your inward estimation of your mother should contain a measure of fear, Leviticus 19.3:  ďYe shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.Ē

3B.    This fear of your mother should be expressed by the reverence you show toward your mother.  Failure to show reverence for your mother is the same as despising her.  Proverbs 30.17 speaks of ďThe eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother.Ē

4B.    God has nothing good to say in His Bible about the child who does not honor his mother.  On the contrary, He has much bad to say and many dire pronouncements about the future of such children. 

2A.   Next, YOUR OBEDIENCE OF HER LAWFUL COMMANDS SHOWS YOUR HONOR OF HER

1B.    Turn to Ephesians 6.1-3:

1       Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

2       Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

3       That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 

2B.    This means that you children should obey your mother, should come when she calls you, should stay where she puts you, should go where she sends you, should do what she bids you, should refrain from what she forbids you.  And this obedience should spring from a cheerful spirit and a loving heart.  After all, this is your mother, the woman who bore you, who nursed you when you were hungry and sick, and who fed and clothed you.

3B.    Now, perhaps you are one who has said to your mother, ďI will not.Ē  What should you now do?  Follow the example of Matthew 21.28-29, wherein Jesus spoke these words:  ďSon, go work to day in my vineyard.  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.Ē  Have you disobeyed your mother?  Repent, that is, go to her and ask her forgiveness, and then obey her voice. 

3A.   Third, YOUR SUBMISSION TO HER SHOWS YOUR HONOR OF HER

1B.    Submit to her rebukes.  Listen to her instructions.  Suffer her corrections.  After all, she is your mother.  She has earned the right to speak to you both sweetly and crossly, both tenderly and sternly.  And even if  you have a wicked mother who has abandoned you, and therefore has not earned the right to speak to you, submit to her anyway because she is still the mother God gave to you.

2B.    It is out of your own good conscience toward God that you should submit to your mother, since God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Can you think of any human being more deserving of your humble posture and attitude than your mother?  Submit to her. 

4A.   Fourth, SEEK THE ADVICE, COUNSEL AND CONSENT OF YOUR MOTHER

1B.    Of course, the extent to which this is done with your mother will vary, depending upon your age and status.  If you are living at home the manner by which you seek your motherís advice, counsel and consent will differ from those who are married and living on their own.

2B.    But regardless of your station in life, never think that you have gone so far, that you have climbed so high, or that you have achieved so much, that you no longer need to listen to your mother.

3B.    Many were the times when Mary spoke to the Lord Jesus as a mother who obviously did not fully comprehend her Sonís nature or mission.  But never was there a time He did not listen to her. 

5A.   Fifth, YOU HONOR YOUR MOTHER WHEN YOU COMFORT HER, WHEN YOU DO YOUR BEST TO MAKE HER OLD AGE EASY, AND SUPPORT HER WHEN SHE IS IN NEED

1B.    Turn to Matthew 15.4-6:

4       For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

5       But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

6       And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free.  Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 

2B.    A careful study of this passage reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ, by His comment, ďThus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition,Ē understood that the command to honor your mother extends to taking care of her when she is old and infirm, and when she is in need of material support.

3B.    And the apostle Paulís directive in First Timothy 5, aimed at providing financial aid to godly mothers who have a good reputation for serving God and ministering to the saints, shows the same.  As well, Paul labels that man or woman, those nieces or nephews, who will not take care of their godly widow mother or aunt.  Worse than infidels are such men and women.

4B.    You young people who are planning for life after high school, considering what you will do for a living, how you will prepare for your life, and what training and education you will seek to support yourself and your family.  Make sure there is consideration for your godly mother after your dad has died, and even for your godly aunt after your uncle has died.

5B.    You see, itís not right for anyone else to take care of your mom in her old age, particularly the mothers among us who are widowed.  And by what moral right does a government take money out of your pocket to support someone elseís mother, leaving you less able to take care of your own mother?

6B.    No, Godís way is better.  Godís way is personal.  Godís way is loving and tender.  Godís way is gentle and kind.  Godís way also allows those who are younger to prepare for their own old age by sowing seeds of kindness and care that they will someday reap in their own lives. 

CONCLUSION:

1.   Mothers among us?  You occupy a special place in Godís economy, and you always have.  In the old Law of Moses economy God wrote it into the nationís laws that you were to be honored and even taken care of in your old age as a reward for the sacrifices made when you were young.

2.   And even in this new Church Age economy God has plans for mothers.  Every son and daughter is duty bound to provide for his aged mother to meet her needs.  And if mother is a godly widow who has a history of Christian ministry the Church is privileged to step in should her worse-than-infidel children or nieces and nephews fail to pull their weight.

3.   What can speak more highly of a religion than its care and concern for those most helpless among us?  And by honoring you mothers we are expressing our concern for the protection of you mothers yourselves, for the protection of your sons and daughters during infancy and childhood, and for your protection as you advance in age and become our gray storehouses of wisdom and experience.

4.   And now, before brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song before this morningís sermon, it is my privilege to give you mothers in attendance today a small token of our love and appreciation. 

INTRODUCTION:

1.   Mom?  When I recited that brief history of Motherís Day and reviewed the ways in which sons and daughters demonstrate honor for their mothers, I was speaking to them.

2.   My comments were intended to affect the way your children treat you, how you should train them to treat you as they are growing up, and what you should come to expect from properly trained children in your old age.  All of those comments were basically directed to your kids.

3.   But you are being an unrealistic mother if you expect such treatment from your child without investing your life in raising your child to be that kind of child.  Children must be trained to honor their mothers.  Children must be corrected when they do not honor their mothers.  And they must be encouraged and rewarded to reinforce their behavior when they honor their mothers.

4.   Who best to train children to honor you than you, mom?  To be sure, a man is a fool who allows his children to dishonor his wife, since by dishonoring their mother children are also dishonoring their father.  A man who doesnít recognize that is little more than an idiot.

5.   But whether your childrenís father is in the home or not, mom, the person who is primarily responsible to train, to teach, to demand, to command, to prepare your children to honor you, to obey you, to fear you, to show reverence and respect for you at all times, is you.

6.   If your son does not obey you, mom, if he ignores you, if he shows disrespect toward you, if he refuses to take you seriously, if he discounts you, it is your fault.  The household should come to a screeching halt, the world should stop turning, the sun should stop shining, no food should be prepared, no laundry should be washed, no carpet should be vacuumed, no permission should be granted, unless and until your son or your daughter stops being disrespectful toward you and begins to honor you.

7.   And each and every time you are treated in a disrespectful manner, no matter how early, no matter how late, no matter the schedule, no matter the short term consequences, no matter that it makes you late or your child late or your husband late or the president of the United States late, everything must stop, and you must correct, discipline, spank, react in whatever manner is necessary, to elicit from your child, to persuade your child and all those around you, that you will not tolerate, that you will not accept, that you will not countenance, that you will not allow, that you will not permit, any child of yours to dishonor you without a major, first class, grade A, nuclear confrontation to correct that problem, to address that sin, to remove that blight, to remedy that error.  Do I make myself clear on this matter?

8.   Mom?  I am on your side.  And for your sake, you must understand that you set the tone for honoring you.  Itís importance to your children is determined by you.  Itís importance to your husband is determined by you.  Therefore, you must make the honoring of you by your children the single most important issue related to your relationship with them as their mother.

9.   That said, let me now speak to you moms as though no one else was in the room but you and me.  I know they are still here, and so do you, but I am now ignoring them and focusing all of my attention on you.  I speak to you now as a first born son, as a man and husband and father, and as a pastor.

10. I love my mother.  What she has been through over the last 25 years makes my heart ache.  And I am determined to do what I can, as a pretty feeble son and an all too incompetent man, to be a blessing to her in her old age.  I was not a very good boy.  My brother was such a good boy when we were kids.  But I want to be a good son.  And by Godís grace I am becoming a better son, and hope to some day be a good son.

11. So, now that you know my heart, let me talk to you moms.  Some of you are young and some of you are old, and some of you are in between.  Some of you are mothers to be, and my comments are directed to you, as well.  But my primary interest this morning, and the focus of my prayers related to this message from Godís Word, has been in regard to you mothers.

12. Earlier I spoke to others about honoring you, about them showing respect to you, and even about them taking care of you when you are old and possibly widowed.  Now I want to talk to you about you.  Listen to me, mom.  Listen very carefully.  For itís a firstborn son who speaks to you, as well as a pastor.  And I speak with a profound interest in your welfare, both now and forever. 

1A.   YOU ARE A MOTHER

1B.    The very fact that you are a mom means you have been singularly blessed of God.  Imagine!  God chose to make you a vehicle of comfort and protection and nurture in bringing into this world a new life, a human being, an eternal and undying soul.  What criminal outrage for a woman to violate that trust by getting an abortion.  But I digress.

2B.    Is it not just like God to turn to good even that which is evil?  Imagine some poor girl violated by a man, yet out of that misery and pain God can bring about conception and usher into the family of man a beautiful child.  That was how the Gospel singer Ethyl Waters was born, nine months after her mother was violently attacked by a man.  How good God shows Himself to always be.

3B.    So, God can bring good out of bad and can work wonders in the most opposing circumstances.  The very fact that God has given you the honor, the privilege, the awesome responsibility, and the back breaking task, of being a mother means that He has blessed you in a way or to an extent that perhaps you have never before realized.

4B.    I was in MacDonaldís Friday night, waiting for the others who were ordering their food after the volleyball all-star game some of our girls played in, when an interview playing on the television set in the eating area caught my attention.

5B.    It was Baba Wawa interviewing Connie Chung and her husband Maury Povich about their adopted son, who is now six years old.  Connie Chung told how she was fired from CBS news without any advance warning.  Yet in that darkest time of her professional life she was notified the very next day that their efforts to adopt a child had succeeded.

6B.    And how did Connie Chung describe that blessing?  She said, ďCall it serendipity, or whatever you want.Ē  Barbara Walters said, ďI guess you could say God blessed you.Ē  For once Baba Wawa was right on target.  Without her even realizing that God was involved in the conception of that child and the adoption of that child, Connie Chung, nevertheless, was singularly blessed by God.

7B.    And so are you, mom.  Just the fact that you are a mother means that you have been placed by God into a position that is vital and key to the establishment and the maintenance of a society.  For there is no more vital relationship in holding together a culture, a country, a society, than the family unit.  And the heart of the family is the mother.

8B.    But who, in our culture, recognizes your importance as much as this Church does?  Everywhere you are degraded and diminished.  Your obligations to your children and your importance in raising them is under attack, sometimes even by your own selfish husbands.  They are willing to eat their own children rather than sacrifice so that their sons and daughters can be raised by their own mothers.

9B.    Reflecting what God teaches in His Word, what we have come to understand from our own experiences, and what is dictated to us by our hearts, we love you mothers here, we cherish you mothers here, and we want you mothers here.

10B.  This does not mean that we are blind to the realities, however.  Though you are a mother, 

2A.   YOU ARE A MOTHER WHO IS A SINNER

1B.    Do you listen to little kids as much as I do?  Do you know how many times I have been told over the course of my adult life that peopleís kids like me?  But most kids donít particularly like most men, because most men are not at all pleasant for little kids to be around, and because most men treat kids like kids.  But in a certain way I treat kids like they are little adults, like they are responsible.

2B.    Treating kids like that, and listening to them, I know them pretty well.  Sometimes I know some things about a kid better than his mom does.  For example:  Every kid wants his mom to be pure and clean and holy.  Every kid wants to think of his mother as a saint, as a righteous woman.  And early on in his life a kid measures everything that is supposed to be holy and pure by the standard of what he imagines his own mother to be.

3B.    How tragic it is when a little boy or a little girl is profoundly disappointed to learn that his mom is wicked.  It hurts him when his mother is vulgar and profane and nasty, sometimes too deeply to ever admit.  So imagine how a child feels when she discovers that there is something wrong with her mom, that her mom is unholy, that her mom is evil, that her mom is a fornicator or trash mouthed?

4B.    Mom?  I donít know how you became a mom.  I hope you were a virgin when you got married and that the only man you have ever known has been your husband, and that beginning on the night of your marriage.  Becoming a mom is a blessing from God, since God is the Author of life.  But so many moms committed terrible sins before they became moms, and have continued to commit terrible sins after they have become moms.

5B.    Take it from me.  As tragic as it is for a child to realize that his mommy is very sinful, as hurtful as it is to his little heart to try and comprehend the sinfulness of his own mother, it is nevertheless true.  Children want to deny that their mommy is a bad woman, because they love her and want her to be good, and yearn for her to be virtuous.  But facts are facts and the truth is true.

6B.    You are sinful, mom.  Your sinfulness is a tragedy, both to you and to your children.  Your sinfulness is sinfulness against God, the God Who so blessed you by making you a mother.  How amazing it is that God would so bless you while you so grievously sin against Him.  And how hurtful it is to be a sinful mother; hurtful to you, hurtful to your child.

7B.    Now, some mothers are so unconcerned about sin that they discount their sinfulness, they minimize their sinfulness, they disregard their sinfulness, or they will even heap sinfulness on top of sinfulness by continuing to sin without hesitation.  They think to themselves, ďWell, Iím in this deep, so I might as well go all the way.Ē  Or they will think, ďI am too much a sinner, itís too late to turn back now.Ē

8B.    Mom?  Your sins will be your destruction.  Your sins will be your undoing.  And this, despite the blessing God has given to you by allowing you to be a mom, will come down on you from God.  Because, no matter how much God has favored you by giving you children, He will not overlook your sins forever.  There will come a time when He will pour out His wrath upon you.  You see, it is for sinís sake that the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience, Colossians 3.6.

9B.    Mom?  It grieves me to have to speak these words to you.  But because I really do love you, and because I really do appreciate you and understand as much as a man can what being a mother is, I donít want you to continue on as Godís enemy.  I donít want God to pour out His wrath on you after He has blessed you so much with your children.  But His hatred of your sins will be more compelling than His love for you if something isnít done.

10B.  Mom?  I have been called by God to preach the truth of Godís Word.  And I want to faithfully preach to you the whole counsel of Godís Word.  So, understand that I am not finished yet.  On this Motherís Day I have acknowledged that you are a mother, I have reminded you that you are a mother who is a sinner, now I need to remind you that, 

3A.   YOU ARE A MOTHER WHO NEEDS A SAVIOR

1B.    Some of you are here as young mothers.  Perhaps you even started off motherhood on the wrong footing.  You may have become a mother amidst personal sin and in circumstances that are less than ideal.  Can I tell you something, mom?  I love you.  And I want Godís best for you.  So, itís my privilege to declare to you that there is a Savior Who is a perfect fit for you.

2B.    Some of you are here as moms who seem to have gotten started off on the right footing.  You got everything in its proper sequence so far as motherhood is concerned.  Engagement, marriage, consummation of the marriage, and then conception and delivery of your child.  But one problem remains.  You are not saved, either.  You are just as much in need of a Savior as any other mom in any other situation.  You, too, need to understand that there is a perfect Savior for you.

3B.    Finally, there are some of you moms who are now grandmothers.  You may even be great grandmothers.  But you are still in need of a Savior, and you know you are.  And there is no greater indication of your need of a Savior than the way your own children and grandchildren treat you.

4B.    Your kids and grand kids do not honor you because you have not honored God.  But God has been so kind to you in showing you, even at this stage of your life, that itís not too late to have your sins forgiven, that itís not too late to come to Christ.  Yes, grandmother, the Savior wants you, too.

5B.    So, whether you are young or old or in between, whether you are treated respectfully by your kids or disrespectfully, the issue for you to face today, mom, is the issue of your sinfulness and your great need of the Savior.

6B.    How important are mothers to the Lord Jesus Christ?  While He was hanging on the cross, preparing to make the ultimate payment for your sins and mine, He remembered to honor His Own mother by committing her to the care of His young disciple John.  I read John 19.25-27:

25     Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his motherís sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.

26     When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

27     Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. 

CONCLUSION:

1.   Mother?  Whatever your age, whatever your circumstance, this Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior you need, the Savior Who will receive you if you will come to Him in faith believing.

2.   All mothers are sinful, since all people are sinful.  But not all mothers are forgiven.  Will you give to your little boy or to your little girl a mommy whose sins have been forgiven?  Or will you give to your grown children a mother whose sins are now forgiven?

3.   Pile blessing upon top of blessing.  As God has already blessed you with the privilege of motherhood, come to Christ and add to that the blessing of forgiveness and cleansing and eternal life.


[1]Holly Hildebrand, ďA History of Motherís Day,Ē Houston Chronicle Interactive, 

http://www.chron.com/content/interactive/special/holidays/97/mom/history.html

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