Treasuring Mother

Honoring Mothers in a Culture of Dishonor

By Charles Kelley

Philomath, OREGON – We live in a culture of dishonor – an age when editorials routinely mock our leaders. When media personalities (be they from the right or the left) maliciously attack opposing public figures. Their vitriol infects the mentality and conversation of the nation. No one is immune from dishonor… not the president or members of congress. Not law enforcement officers or teachers. Not even mothers.

Thankfully, due to God’s perfect design, humans have always been born with an instinct to cherish and protect their mothers. The modern Mother’s Day tradition began in the USA in the early 20th century. But celebrations of mothers and motherhood have existed throughout the world for thousands of years.

Let’s take a look:

  • Germans first celebrated mothers during the Middle Ages when relatives would visit and celebrate spring. Germans also lay white flowers on the graves of their mothers who have passed away on Mother’s Day.
  • In Japan, Mother’s Day was established in 1931, only to be outlawed during the Second World War, as was deemed a Western custom; in 1949, the holiday saw a revival. Today, bouquets of red carnations are given to represent a mothers’ purity, sweetness, and endurance and new kimonos are frequently presented to mothers and grandmothers.  
  • Mother’s Day in Mexico is all about mom… and feasting! Families often gather around a feast of signature Mexican dishes such as mole, enchiladas, quesadillas, beef barbacoa, and more. Mariachi bands are hired to awaken mothers with popular songs. 
  • In Spain, May is the month of the Virgin Mary. Spaniards consider this festivity to be a family birthday. The usual gifts of flowers or candies are common in Spain, and some families exchange cards as well. 
  • I first experienced Mother’s Day in Latvia in May 1990. I was surprised to learn that Soviet Latvia didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day, per se. The second Sunday of May was Family Day. Over the years Family Days has evolved into a special day for moms.
  • Here in the United States, on one hand, Mother’s Day is an important family occasion that truly expresses special love with loving cards, breakfast in bed, flowers, and special meals. On the other hand, it has become an industry unto itself. It’s estimated that Americans will spend more than $26 billion on Mother’s Day this weekend.

Underneath these varied expressions and traditions, the most profound ideas about honoring mothers are found in the Bible. The fourth commandment admonishes the honoring of fathers and mothers. This is deeper than most realize:

The Greek word translated as “honor” is timao, which means “to prize, to fix a valuation upon, to revere.” The Hebrew word for “honor” is kabad, which means “heavy and weighty.” In ancient times, the currency was weighed before the value was determined. The heavier the currency, the more valuable it is. Something of great value is a treasure. To truly honor mother is to treasurer her.

This weekend, I invite you all to prayerfully reflect on the mothers in your life. How might you treasure and honor these special women?

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