The Fifth Commandment

Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

The command to honor your parents is the fifth commandment given by God to the chosen people of Israel. This promise was made to the Israelites as they prepared to occupy the Promised Land, which was Canaan. Paul also refers to this commandment in Ephesians 6:1-3 when he writes: “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.”

My mother is celebrating her 83rd birthday today and I am thankful that I am going to be able to spend part of the day with her. I have been thinking over the past week of the many sacrifices that my mother has made for me over the course of my life. She did everything she could to raise me in a way that would be pleasing to God. I never remember my mother asking if we were going to Sunday school or church on Sunday morning. I knew that we were going and I didn’t even think to question that. My mother set an example that I was to follow and it is an example that I have set with my children today.

I think back on the many wonderful moments we shared together as a family. My mom and dad had to work long hours most days but they always placed a priority on family time. I remember the many family vacations that we took and the laughter that we shared. Those are memories that truly last a lifetime.

Spending quality time with me, as I was growing up, was another wonderful gift from my mother. She worked full time but she always made time for me, usually at the expense of having less time for herself. I don’t remember my mother complaining too much about the moments in life when things did not go her way. She just took the good with the bad and continued on, believing that God was in control and would care for and watch over our family.

I remember sitting beside my mother in Harmony Baptist church in the late spring of 1976. She didn’t know that I had been talking to my Sunday school teacher for two weeks about being saved. For some reason I just didn’t tell her that I had been saved and was going to join the church. I remember being very nervous throughout the sermon, wondering what my mother would think when I got up to go tell the pastor. As the pastor offered the invitation and the congregation started singing, I remember looking at my mother and saying that I needed to go talk to the preacher. She just nodded and smiled at me and I walked up the aisle. It was as if she knew what I had been thinking and struggling with all along. Mothers are like that though – they usually know their children better than we know ourselves. Happy Birthday Mom!

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