A Mother's Day Sermon

by Frank Pressly

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.' Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:1-4).

It has seemed to me appropriate that for Mother's Day we should take the Fifth Commandment as the basis of our thought.

This is not in any way to detract from the centrality of the mother in the home. Neither am I endeavoring to bring the father in for a share of the tribute and honor which should rightly go to the mother on this day.

I turn to this commandment because in it is embodied the very basis and essential significance of Mother's Day.

From the beginning, the church and the people of God have paid tribute to the high and noble estate of motherhood. Even while our first parents were still in the Garden of Eden, recognition of this was made. Adam named his wife "Eve" because, as he said, "She is the mother of all living." Immediately after their expulsion from the garden, it was prophesied, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head."

Someone has said, "When you tell the story of any great man, you must begin with his mother." The love and influence of the mother is the central and supreme influence of the home. A Chinese proverb expresses this most clearly. It goes something like this: "When a child goes away from home, he carries his mother's hand with him."

It is doubly significant that the one who was chosen to influence our Lord most in the days of His earthly life was His mother. She alone was the one who was with Him all the way from the cradle to the grave. During His boyhood and youth, He was subject to her as well as to Joseph. What greater tribute could be paid to the dignity and sublimity of motherhood than this?

In the Fifth Commandment: "Honor thy father and thy mother," we would not be wrong if for emphasis on this day, we would say, "Honor thy mother." This commandment stands at the head of the second table of the Law. It is the first and fundamental statute in our duty to man. Here, we have laid down for us the very warp and woof of society in general and of Christian society in specific.

Without Christian homes, there cannot really be a Christian church. Without dedicated, consecrated Christian mothers, there cannot really be Christian homes. The Christian religion is a religion of the home. The home was the place God chose where His Son could be raised. He chose the nurture and instruction and discipline of the home as the place where His Son should grow and develop into perfect manhood. He didn't choose the Temple or some institution. He chose the home.

In Christianity, there is no substitute for the home. Neither the government, nor society can take its place. Parental authority, parental honor, and parental love must be guarded and kept at all cost. The tragedy of our day is not that we don't have good children. We have the finest, most promising children of any generation. They are way ahead of us in so many respects. Neither is the tragedy of our day in the fact that we don't have good institutions. We have some of the finest, best-equipped institutions that the world has ever known.

The tragedy of our day is in this: That the sanctity, authority, and love of the home have been violated in so many areas. All too often the home has become peripheral and not central in the life and training of our children. If we would seek knowledge and love and happiness for ourselves and for our children, then the place to begin is in our homes and in our families.

This commandment is a command to children.: "Honor thy father and thy mother." This is not an arbitrary command. It is the most natural, reasonable necessity of society. It is as it should be. If any man or woman has a right to our honor, it is our parents. Think of the love and care which they have given us through all our infant days. Think of the expense and time and effort which they so generously gave. This is especially true of mothers. In time of sickness or injury, she would drop all else that we might be cared for.

Not only is it the parents' right to receive honor, this is best for the child. It is remarkable that of all of creation, the most helpless and dependent creature is the human infant. We have ordered day-old chicks and were amazed to see how completely their instincts were developed to eat, drink, scratch and care for themselves. But for us humans, it takes months, even years, before we can do one thing for ourselves.

All of this is in order that the child might have the love and discipline of the home, and so be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The real purpose of the Fifth Commandment is not to safeguard the honor of parents; it is rather for the sake of children. Children are happier and safer if they obey and honor their parents.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor thy father and mother which is the first commandment with promise."

A famous child specialist has recently written: "When it comes to a serious illness, the child who has been taught to obey stands four times the chance of recovery than the undisciplined child who will not obey." I know there are those in every crowd who think their parents are old fogies. They think of them as impossible squares.

One mother overheard two children talking. One said, "What in the world can we do about our parents?" The other said, "There's really nothing we can do. By the time we get them, they are so old and set in their ways, you can't change them!"

Well, let's not try to change them. Let's honor them. And today, and every day, remember to honor them. So today and every day, let's pay special tribute to mother.

Reprinted from the ARP Magazine,
with permission

(Editor's note: This Mother's Day sermon was recently found tucked inside a folder with Frank Pressly's name written on the outside. Pressly served as a missionary for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pakistan for 24 years, with his wife, Sarah Hunter Pressly, by his side, until Pressly's ill health forced them to return home in 1971. He died in 1972.)

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad