It’s interesting that the Bible’s command to children is not to “love” their parents but to “honor” them. In fact, the fifth commandment uses the Hebrew word kabod, which is usually translated “glory.” It means to treat as weighty, to attribute worth, to highly value. God’s glory is the weightiness of his attributes, the heaviness of his holiness. Thus, as Christians, we are required by God to give weight and value to our parents no matter what.
I say “no matter what” because, for many, the responsibilities of caring for aging parents can become an unthankful task filled with hurt and disappointment. I think I’m speaking for most guys when I say none of us want to ever become a burden to our children. However, the prerogative may not be left to us.
In my devotional time this morning, a verse unexpectedly came to me. “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” (Proverbs 23:22) The implication is that the older we get the greater our tendency to show less respect. To despise basically means a failure to give proper honor.
With Mother’s Day approaching, here are a few ways each of us should honor our moms:
1. Display common courtesies.
Remembering her birthday, anniversary, and other special occasions is a great start. Showing deference in her presence by opening doors, helping with little tasks, and speaking with kindness and respect. As a dear friend once said to me after I shared an argument I had recently had with my own mom, he said, “Seriously, you argued with an 84-year old?” Point taken. I was rebuked.
2. Share her influence.
Whenever possible, let mom know how she’s been a positive influence in your life. You might reflect on something you learned from her that’s been a help to you. If you do certain things the way she did, you should point out that you learned it from her. Such affirmation is one of the greatest needs of the elderly.
3. Allow them to change.
As people grow old, they often experience changes that may not sit well with us. Physical changes limit their ability to function as they once did. Sometimes, mental changes occur that signal drastic changes in your relationship. It’s difficult to realize that your mother may no longer be the mom you once knew. Be patient with her and fight frustration by curbing your expectations.
It’s difficult to realize that your mother may no longer be the mom you once knew.
4. Forgive her.
Timothy Keller once said, “If you’re still mad at your parents, you’ve never grown up.” There’s no way your relationship can be right with God if you harbor anger toward a parent. In a very real sense, being resentful toward a parent enslaves you to their control. Forgiveness frees you to honor them because you understand how God has forgiven you.
5. Demonstrate independence.
On another level, if you’re still trying to earn your parents’ approval, you also haven’t grown up. It’s very sad when parents seek to control the lives of their adult children. To a degree, it actually demonstrates their own failure. Honoring your mom means you’re no longer dependent on her affirmation. Honor her by showing her you’re not still trying to earn her approval.
The way we can achieve these things and give mom the honor that she is due is through Jesus Christ. To live in the blessed reality that I am God’s child, and that he always knows best, enables us to honor our parents in tough times. Knowing Jesus as our elder brother, and God as Father, frees us to love, forgive, not need, and revere our parents, no matter what.