Leviticus 19 might seem to be an unlikely passage for Mother’s Day, but if we look closer it has a powerful message.
This chapter reiterates most of the Ten Commandments, adding comments and elaborations. It is in this chapter that we find what Jesus called the second greatest commandment: “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 18). Verse 34 says that we are also to love the “stranger” as ourselves. In verse 3, we have a curious expression of the Fifth Commandment:
Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God.
The first thing that strikes me is the reversal of word order from that of Exodus 20:12. In Leviticus 19, God puts “mother” first! When speaking of honor for parents, only this verse and Leviticus 21:2 place the mother before the father. If it was intended for nothing else than to catch our attention, we should give it some.
The second word I notice is “reverence” (NASB). The Hebrew word is translated “revere” in the English Standard Version and the New King James Version, and “fear” in the King James Version. The word means to have deep respect and honor for someone. Now here’s the surprising part: It is the same word that is used in verse 14 with reference to God! Most translations obscure this connection by translating the same word with different English words. The New American Standard Bible keeps the connection closer by using “reverence” in v. 3 and “revere” in v.14, two words that virtually mean the same thing. The King James and the New King James translate it “fear” in both verses.
The point is, that reverence or profound respect for one’s mother has a lot to do with reverence and respect for God.
The Bible gives us clear guidelines for showing respect for our mother.
I. Show an obedient attitude toward your mother. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Children and young people need to develop an attitude of respect and to learn how to make godly appeals to parents. Parents are human and their judgment is not always perfect. Yet a child can appeal respectfully to parents and abide by their decision. Daniel used respectful appeal regarding his diet in Babylon (Daniel 1:8-16). Abigail used godly appeal to keep David from executing murderous rage (1 Samuel 25:23-33). Attitude is all important!
II. Respect your mother’s counsel.
Even when we are grown and out of our parents’ house, we can still respect their counsel, and in doing so, we show reverence for God.
Prov. 23:22—“Listen to the father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
III. We can care for them when they are old and infirm.
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day because they, in the guise of honoring God, were nullifying God’s commandments.
And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, "Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban"' (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do." (Mark 7:9-13)
IV. We can honor their memory with a godly life.
Even after our mothers have gone on to eternity, we can honor them by living a life that they would be proud of. Regardless of our failures up to this point, we can still end well. We can bring honor to the memory of our mothers.
This Mother’s Day, let us meditate on our biblical responsibility to honor our mothers, and thus honor and revere the God who gave them.