Thank God for Mom

A few thousand years ago, the High King of the universe rescued a grumbling, stumbling band of slaves from back-breaking labor in the rich land of Egypt.  He led them out to the mountain of Sinai, where before they entered the land He had promised to give them, God Himself etched ten laws for life on two tablets of stone.  But one of these commands was different from the rest.  Only one came with a built-in promise, an inherent incentive, and it's this... "Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land" (Eph 6:3).  

Now, today is Mother’s Day, and whether you are a mother or not, this exhortation is for you, because every single one of us has a mother given to us by God.  The Ten Commandments, which are for everyone, were paraphrased by Jesus as "Love the Lord your God, and love people."  The first four commandments are about loving God, and the very first commandment God gives as He turns his attention to how we should love those around us is about our regard, esteem, respect, honor for our parents.  Why would he do this?  Why is this so important?

First of all, honoring your parents teaches us humility and dependence.  We did not create ourselves, we did not bring ourselves into this world - God did, and He did it on purpose through two very specific people in a particular time in history.  We arrive in this crazy, wonderful world as weak, helpless, screaming, clueless balls of flesh.  And whether you agree with the bulk of what your parents have done in raising you or not, the majority of us need to realize that we owe a great deal of thanks to our parents, to our mothers, as a primary channel of God's grace and care in our lives.  But how does that grace come to us?

Parenthood, and especially motherhood, is a great sacrifice.  It is a form of death.  Through pain and loss, a mother brings her child into the world - in labor, in birth, but also in raising that child.  A parent must give of themselves to allow their child to flourish - they die to their freedom, their own use of time, resources, emotional energy, and more.  But God has wired this world as a beautiful intertwining of death and life.  Jesus said "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)"  And again, "Whoever would save his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."  So today, and as often as you think of it, cultivate a thankful, honoring heart towards God for your mother's sacrifices on your behalf - and if you have the opportunity, communicate that thankfulness to your mom.  Mother's Day should be an opportunity to give thanks, more than an expectation of receiving thanks, for "it is more blessed to give than receive."  

But Hallmark doesn't write the church calendar, and what would our homes look like if gratitude was the theme of our daily lives, rather than a single day per year?  In the end of the book of Proverbs, there is this portrait of a flourishing wife and her beautiful family.  After describing in detail the strength, ingenuity, kindness, selflessness, and wisdom of this faithful wife & mother, the teacher describes the family's collective response. "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”  What a beautiful picture of the music of a gospel home... with explicit encouragement, dad lays down the beat, the kids step in tune, and mom delivers the high note that makes the piece soar.  

So this Sunday, let all of us cultivate a heart of gratitude, humility, and praise, first to God for his good gifts manifested in the mother of our youth, and allow that to overflow in words & deeds of honor for the mothers in our midst.  And that reminds us of our need to confess our sins.  Pray with me.

Father in heaven, we confess that so often we have not had a heart of thankfulness within our families.  Rather than being encouraging, we have often been discouraging, perhaps in sullen silence, or prideful bossing.  We have often dishonored our parents in word and deed, and in doing so, we dishonor and disrespect you, our heavenly Father, and so, seeking your mercy, we confess our individual sins to you now.  

And now Lord, would you fix our eyes on our perfect older brother, Jesus, who always faithfully honored his heavenly Father AND his earthly parents, perfectly obeying with a sincere trust that led to even death on a Roman cross for our failures.  By your Spirit, would you transform us to live as members of the heavenly family in love and truth.  Amen.