As we approach Mother’s Day—it’s important to consider a proper way to honor your mother. The value of a mother is far higher than we can hardly imagine. In the Ten Commandments, we find the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) that reads, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
Paul, in writing to the church in Ephesus and the surrounding cities, echoes this command as he writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph. 6:1-3). This is a command of extraordinary significance and we should never devalue the role and value of our mother.
The word translated “honor” in the the Greek text found in Ephesians 6:2 is “τιμάω“—meaning “to show high regard for, honor, revere.”  On Mother’s Day, we will undoubtedly hear many words that praise mothers and their role in the spiritual development of their children. Many sermons will be preached from Proverbs 31 as an encouragement to godly mothers. John Wesley once remarked, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” However, that might not be your story today. What about the Christian who desires to honor his unbelieving mother—how should this be carried out in a way that honors God and the unbelieving mother? If your mother doesn’t believe the gospel, you can still honor her and you’re called to this important task.
Honor Your Mother by Your Obedience
You should obey your mother so far as you are able. If you live at home, you are required to obey her on a daily basis. Obey your mother so long as she doesn’t ask you to disobey the revealed will of God in His Word. Have you considered that God has grouped both mother and father together in the command of honoring and obedience? In other words, if you dishonor your father you are not fully showing honor to your mother. Obedience is expected, as it finds its root in God’s created order. William Hendriksen observes, “Undisciplined children spell ruin for the nation, the church, and society! The promise of God to reward obedience still holds.” 
A willing submission to your mother’s God-given authority is the most foundational way to honor her. Someone who possesses a rogue attitude to their mother certainly does so at the expense of her honor. Disobedience and disrespect are linked together, and it’s essential to submit to the authority figures that God has placed over you in this life. At a foundational level—a person who has trouble submitting to the authority of their mother will likewise find it difficult to submit to God. We are called to obey our parents in the Lord, and therefore it’s right—no matter if our mother is a believer or not. The only time disobedience to your mother is permissible is when she demands that you disobey God.
Honor Your Mother for her Position in Life
Honor your mother, as much as you’re able, for her position as your mother. If your mother is an unbeliever, she is no less your mother. Find ways to honor her even if you can’t commend her for gospel-centered discipleship in your life. Perhaps you can can honor your mother by complimenting her beauty—not just from old photographs, but by how she has aged. Perhaps you can honor her ability to provide for you and nurture you in your early years of life. In some cases—such as a single parent home where the mother was responsible for all of the provisions—her labor is worthy of double honor. Can you honor her housekeeping or her cooking? Can you honor her unquestionable love for your family or for your children—her grandchildren?
James Montgomery Boice provides encouragement in this area by writing, “If you are having difficulty in this regard, I suggest that you study your parents and pick out those areas in which you can properly honor them.”  Boice talks about “studying” your parents to find areas worthy of honor. This is extremely important for the Christian who has an unbelieving mother. Unless it’s a truly rare circumstance, your unbelieving mother is worthy of roses on Mother’s Day if for no other reason than the simple fact that she is your mother.
Honor Your Mother by Pointing her to Christ
If your mother is not a follower of Christ, the very best way to show her honor is by sharing the gospel with her. In doing so, you are not dishonoring her or disrespecting her by pointing out her need for Jesus Christ. By sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, you demonstrate your love for her. As you speak of her need for Jesus Christ, you reveal the true value of her existence—the glory of God.
Consider the fact that you honor God by engaging in the Great Commission and sharing the hope of the gospel with unbelievers. What better way to honor your mother than by sharing with her the hope of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ? Unfortunately, many people inadvertently dishonor their mother by talking to her about her cakes while never getting around to talking about her soul.
The day your mother dies, you will value your gospel conversations with her far above how you honored her service, her commitment, her labor in providing for your material needs, her love for your children, or her abilities in the kitchen. Make this Mother’s Day one that has eternal value.
- William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1004.
- William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Ephesians, vol. 7, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 261.
- James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1988), 213.
One week each year a large population of Christian women sit at home while their church is worshipping on the Lord’s Day. They purposefully miss because it’s Mother’s Day – a day set aside to recognize and celebrate motherhood. The day that’s often focused on motherhood and the joys, responsibilities, challenges, and calling of all mothers is often too difficult for infertile women to grapple with – especially if the entire sermon is devoted to the subject. Although I am a man who certainly has never felt the isolation and pain of an infertile woman, the gospel of Jesus Christ should shine in the hearts of infertile Christian women providing encouragement rather than a reproach. Below you will see biblical reasons for infertile women to attend church on Mother’s Day.
Finding our Identity in Christ
It doesn’t matter if you are a truck driver, farmer, fireman, athlete, or a pastor – there is a massive challenge to escape the identity trap. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying who we are and how God made us or gifted us in this life, there is something dangerous about being chained to that as our ultimate identity. What if something happened to our bodies physically that prevented us from hitting that ball, preaching that sermon, singing that song, driving that truck, or managing that business? Would we find our contentment in our identity as a Christian or would we feel as if we had experienced an identity theft?
It was the year 177 A.D. and a man named Sanctus was arrested and tortured for his faith in Jesus Christ. The torturers asked him a series of questions, but no matter what they asked, he responded with one answer: “I am a Christian.” It didn’t matter to Sanctus what his name was, his occupation, his status in the community, or any other detail. As they placed red hot plates against his most tender parts of his body, he continued to give them one answer – “I am a Christian.” They eventually became impatient with his bold faith, so they martyred him and burned his body to ashes. His body was swept into the Rhone river.
Like Sanctus, we must find our ultimate identity in Christ. We have been rescued and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Our goal in this life should not be centered on an external status that is often emphasized by the world we live in, but rather our identity in Christ.
Finding our Comfort in the Community of Christ
God has designed humanity with certain needs. One of those needs is community. As we glance around our society we see different communities in our secular culture. As Christians, we are no different. We need the church and should long to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Part of that community culture of the church should be centered upon prayer and carrying one another’s burdens. Rather than overlooking one another and causing certain populations of people to be marginalized within the church family, we should spend time in prayer for one another in a biblical attempt to carry the burdens of fellow believers. Notice the pattern of the early church as they gathered together and cared for one another:
- Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- Acts 2:45 – And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
- Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
- Romans 15:1 – We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Since it is the duty of the church to care and the responsibility of the Christian to reveal needs to the community, it’s not a healthy pattern for infertile women to remain silent and absent from the church on Mother’s Day. The infertile women and the church need one another.
Finding our Calling in the Gospel of Christ
The ultimate calling of all women transcends motherhood. The ultimate calling of all Christian women is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Learning to be content in all seasons of life and rejoicing in one’s identity in Christ is ultimate – above occupation, status, and motherhood. As we all seek the calling that God has for our lives, we must examine our situation, our obedience to God, and His Word. We must recognize God’s calling based on His Word. He will never lead us down a path that contradicts His revealed and inspired Word. The Bible is not a magic book that mysteriously shows us God’s will for our lives. However, as we learn contentment and radical submission to God through His Word, it’s at those moments – often veiled by darkness and discouragement, that God reveals His will.
It could be that the inability to conceive and have children is one way that God calls specific women to adoption. What a privilege to take an unwanted boy from an orphanage and call him son. What a privilege to hear the voice of an unwanted child call out to his mother. Although many women who have given birth to children feel called to adopt, it’s often in the dark moments of infertility that certain women realize their calling to adopt. Infertility should not remain a hurdle or a prison of discouragement that hinders women of Christ from discovering their calling in the gospel of Christ and their usefulness within the church of Christ. It may be on a Mother’s Day while hearing the gospel preached that an infertile woman is faced with her calling in this life.
Finding our Hope in the Promise of Christ
The hope of all Christians is founded upon our Savior Jesus Christ. The Scripture reveals that He has felt discouragement, rejection, isolation, and shame – all for our sake. Isaiah 53:3 prophesied about Jesus these words, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” As we read on, we see that Jesus experienced great discouragement and rejection from His own people. In John 1:9-11, we see a picture of Jesus being rejected by His own people. Yet, we find our hope in this rejected Savior! He single handedly fulfilled the Law of God, died for guilty sinners, became the propitiation for our sins, paid the full atonement for our sins, and was raised to life on the third day as the Victor over death. The Scripture says that in Christ all things are made new (Revelation 21:5).
In Christ, the weeping infertile woman (1 Samuel 1) can find her ultimate hope in the restoration of all things in Christ. What Adam ruined the second Adam has promised to restore. Therefore, in Christ we are promised to see no more death, sorrow, weeping, and pain – for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21). This life is not final and our joy is not determined by the limitations of our physical body here in this life. One day, in Christ, the infertile woman will rejoice as she is made complete and whole.
On Mother’s Day, both the fertile and infertile, the rich and poor, the employed and unemployed, those who can walk and those with paralysis, the seeing and the blind, and deaf and those who hear – all gather with one single hope – the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ!
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.1
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!
Pastor Josh Buice
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1. “Hallelujah All I Have Is Christ” – Jordan Kauflin ( Looked Upon CD)
To My Wife:I remember the evening when you looked into my eyes and said, “I do.” I truly received a gift from God! You have given your all to Christ and sacrificed much for our family and ministry. Thank you for putting Christ first. Thank you for serving faithfully even when others around you seemed to be half-hearted in their service. I am grateful that your joy is rooted in Christ rather than the things of this world. Thank you for being a wonderful Mother to our children. You have given them something that very few have in our working society. You have fulfilled the character traits of the Proverbs 31 woman. Happy Mother’s Day!To My Mom:Thank you for always loving me and supporting me. I remember the night when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. I thank God for allowing me to be there for that wonderful moment in time. Thank you for being a wonderful Mom to me and a dedicated “Nana” to Mikaela. You have truly sacrificed yourself for the task of raising Mikaela, and God shall reward you greatly. Happy Mother’s Day.To My Step-Mom:Thank you for being more than a “step-mom” to me as I grew from a young boy into adulthood. I remember the many times when I tested your loyalty to our family, and I am grateful for your loyalty and your sacrifice. You always treated me like your own child without trying to take the place of my Mom. That must have been a difficult task, and I do thank you! Happy Mother’s Day.To My Grandmother:Thank you for always being a consistent Godly Grandmother in my eyes. As I grew up, I knew that I could count on you to provide me with great cakes, pies, and other sweet treats, but most of all, I could count on you to provide biblical advice about life. Your life provided me with an example of a hardworking, God fearing, family loving, and dedicated Grandmother. I respect you and I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.To My Granny:Thank you for demonstrating an example of biblical submission to my Pawpaw. You have always followed his leadership in the home, and I do respect that greatly. I also respect you for taking good care of Pawpaw in these recent days as he continues to fight cancer. Thank you for loving me, supporting me, and praying for me as I have tried to follow our Lord’s direction in my life. Happy Mother’s Day.To My Gammy:I remember the first time I met you. Those words seem strange as I talk about my “Grandmother” – but you have been much more than a step-Grandmother in my life. Thank you for loving me and accepting me into your family as a little rambunctious child over 23 years ago. When you were most likely not ready to be a “Grandmother” – you did an excellent job. Happy Mother’s Day.To My Mother-In-Law:Thank you for giving up your little girl 5 1/2 years ago to be my wife and to serve along my side in the ministry. I realize it was difficult as you drove away from our little apartment in Louisville, Ky on that day when we moved away to attend Seminary. Since that day, our home has been hours away from your home in Douglasville – and I thank you for never questioning God’s calling on our lives. May God continue to give you peace and strength to live hours away from your daughter and grandchildren. Happy Mother’s Day!Until God calls you home, please seek Christ, love Christ, treasure Christ, and be a great example of Christ to those in our family for the glory of God. Nothing you could leave behind to us would be greater in value than a life that is completely surrendered to Christ. Money is squandered away, jewelry rusts, homes crumble, cars fall apart, and pictures fade away, but a life of devotion and joy in Christ will shine bright into eternity. That type of life places a smile on the face of heaven and glory on the face of our God.
“You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.”
I love you all — Happy Mother’s Day!Your Husband, Son, Grandson, Son-In-Law . . .Josh Buice