The commercial went something like this: “This year, get your mother what she really wants.” I was still listening intently because I am so bad at buying presents. But I was a bit underwhelmed by the answer. “This year get her a massage.”
“Really? A massage?” I thought. “Well, what do I know, maybe it’s a good idea.”
So, I asked my wife, “Would you like a massage for Mother’s Day?” She looked at me with a very weird expression on her face. I got the message — no, that would not quite do it for her.
Now, I must admit, I didn’t query any other moms, so maybe it is a tremendous idea, after all. But not for Marilyn, my wife.
Well, what would be a good Mother’s Day present? I’ve done flowers. I’ve done a box of chocolates. I’ve taken her out for a wonderful dinner. I’ve bought wonderful Hallmark cards with the most romantic words ever composed. They are all fine ideas, and often they have gone over very well. But, in a way, they all seem kind of trite.
I guess this year I am searching for something more substantial; something deeper and with more meaning.
It was in the middle of that season of contemplation that I thought that God might have the answer. And, of course, he does!
You see, one of the great purposes of the Bible is to instruct us — to teach us how to live. As a wise person told me long ago, “God has our best interests at heart.” God knows what is best for us. And God does this by giving us commandments.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, chapter 20, God gives what has been the standard for ages on how we should live our lives. We call them the Ten Commandments. And although some seem to think that they have become outdated, I believe they still speak loudly and clearly regarding what God expects of us. In other words, we neglect them at our own peril.
Anyway, the real point of where I am going is that, in the middle of some very heavy statements like “you shall have no other gods before me,” “you shall not murder” and “you shall not steal,” he gives us the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” To honor means “to regard with great respect, to recognize, or to esteem.” The fact that God even added “honor your father and your mother” to the Ten Commandments should show us how important this is.
So, what do you get for mom this Mother’s Day? A massage or chocolates? How about breakfast in bed or a day at the spa? (I just thought of these!) None of these are bad ideas, but I would like to add one more gift suggestion: honor. How about honoring your mother? I truly believe that honoring your mother is the very best gift you can give her. Honoring comes from deep down within you. It comes from your heart.
In the liturgy of my denomination, the Reformed Church in America, when people are making vows like in marriage or entering the ministry, the vows are prefaced with the words, “Yes, truly with all my heart.” I would hope that it would be the same when we pledge our love and honor for our mothers. We do it “truly, with all our heart.”
Again, there is nothing wrong with giving your mom a material gift of some kind. And, just for the record, I have loved the massages I have had in the past. But the point is, whatever you give, just make sure that as you give it, you show her how much you honor her and how thankful you are to have her in your life. Here’s a hint: Hugs and well-thought-out kind words work pretty well.
One little addition before I close. Some of you may have had mothers who, in your eyes, were disappointments and did not live up to what you think constituted being a good mother. Although that may be true, you are still to honor her. Why? Because God makes no exceptions! All the fifth commandment says is, “Honor your father and your mother.” No exceptions!
Yes, I know that may be difficult. But who knows? Through the love you express in honoring your mother, she may be so moved that she is blessed by your kind gesture, and a new and healthier relationship could begin!
— The Rev. John Koedyker is pastor of congregational care at First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.