God gave the Jewish people ten fundamental commands, the fifth (or bridge commandment between relationship with God and relationship with others) was “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
Jesus reemphasized this command on at least two occasions, “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” (Matthew 15:4)
Paul applied it directly to the church in Ephesians 6:2, “Honor your father and mother” – “which is the first commandment with a promise….”
When God speaks, His followers need to listen. When He repeats Himself, we need to sit up, take notice, and obey. What was He saying to them, and is He saying to us? I see the ‘HER Principle” in scripture:
Let’s talk about honor for a moment. The Hebrew root means “heavy”; the word is often used for giving God glory; it means to esteem, respect, reverence. When we honor our parents we are lifting them up to their rightful place, giving them the glory they deserve.
Note that the command does not say to “honor the honorable”. Honor is not a judgment call, does not require our evaluation of the worth of our parents. God gave a certain woman the role of mother in our lives, and we should honor her for it. It’s similar to the biblical command to respect our husbands, whether they’re respectable or not; and to honor and obey governmental authorities, whether we agree with them or not. Sometimes such honor and respect can actually begin to change the one being honored (repeat). Think about it, God does this with us; first declaring us righteous, then working out this declaration in our lives, molding and changing us.
Note that the command is much more important than we would think, being a key to successful living. Initially this may have meant that the Jews could stay in the Promised Land if they honored their parents; then it came to mean that children who honor parents will be blessed. The reverse was also true, it shocks us to realize that, under the OT law, gross disobedience to, cursing or attacking of one’s parents carried the death penalty. God holds the office of parent in very high esteem – perhaps because there we learn how to honor Him.
Proverbs 31 is a key passage for godly women to meditate upon. Verses 28 & 29 state, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’”
It’s significant that encouragement here comes from the husband. We hold such a key to our wives’ hearts, and to their motherly ministry. Our discouragement can bring such chains, our encouragement can help set them free, becoming the women that God intended.
Encouragement is commanded or ‘encouraged’ 59 times in scripture – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each have a ministry of encouragement to God’s people – preaching ministries are to include encouragement – Romans 1:12 states we are mutually encouraged by each others’ faith – Romans 15:4 reminds us that the encouragement of the scriptures brings hope – Hebrews 3:13 states, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” This is such a vital tool in our relationship toolbox; husbands and children, don’t let it sit in there and gather dust.
Proverbs 31:31 concludes, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
We reward our children for being good. We reward athletes and teams for success. We reward excellence in the workplace with promotions. But, for some reason, we talk about not needing rewards in the church or in our relationships. Interestingly, God doesn’t see things this way.
28 times in the New Testament God talks about rewards. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1) Mark reminds us, “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” Paul states, “because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” And one of the last verses in the Bible, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” If rewards are so critical to Christian service that God mentions it 28 times, doesn’t it make sense that we should reward each other, particularly mothers who tend to have so much on their plate yet labor in obscurity?
Let’s get very practical and personal here. This week I emailed a number of our mothers, asking for their input on how to honor, encourage and reward them. Here are some of their responses in conclusion:
“words of encouragement can do wonders – that’s a great supper – it’s so nice to have clean clothes to wear – wow, it smells great in here….” “Do something for me, carry in groceries, put the shoes away, clear the table….”
“Simply a thanks for all you do…”
“…appreciation expressed TO us, by actions and words!!’
“To have my husband tell my son (while I am standing there), ‘You have such a great mother.’” “…Daddy dates without the kids.”
“I’m delighted to hear anything nice, but I’d happily settle for no complaining.”
“I love what my husband helps with cooking supper, giving the kids baths, waking up with the little ones during the night (so I can get my sleep).”
“A handwritten note about what I mean to them or a special time we had together…could be on toilet paper.” “A picnic that I don’t have to plan or pack for.” “Time in a bathroom uninterrupted….” “Watch a movie of my own choosing…can be anything other than animated, scary, gory, wartime or involving a purple dinosaur, Spanish speaking girl or a big yellow bird.”
So use the HER principle with your moms and wives! It’s not copyrighted, won’t cost you anything, except your love and time.