The Spiritual Impacts of Motherly Love

In honor of Mother's Day, this post discusses the impact of good mothering on our character development, spiritual growth and enjoyment of life.

Though our modern western culture may no longer promote or value obeying and honoring our parents (incl. authority figures), in Biblical culture, this is a commandment for followers of God. God issued this command at the start of the Old Testament and it still is a requirement to the Church today, according to the New Testament:

1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” [Ephesians 6:1-3]

Ephesians says that not only is this the 'right way' to building loving relationship with parents, but it says that doing so also produces wellness deep inside of us and causes us to enjoy fulfilled lives while here on Earth.

Jesus Christ was the best example of this as he matured during his youth:

51Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” [Luke 2;51, 52]

The idea of increasing our wisdom, stature and the amount of favor we can obtain from others sounds great. However, it is important we understand that learning obedience and honor from our parents builds these virtues.

Our obedience and honor towards our parents influences our personal development, inner spiritual maturity and our ability to establish and maintain favorable relationships with God and other people.

Obedience means submitting to appropriate authority figures. Whereas, honoring means that we demonstrate our love, reverence, and admiration for others to whom it is due.

It is possible to not respect people we are required to obey, but in God's design, obedience and honor are meant go hand in hand - God does not teach people to practice empty compliance; He shows how to put our hearts into what we do. 

An important way that God makes His character relatable to us and establishes clear relationship expectations for us, is to use human expressions associated with fathers (protection, instruction, provision, etc.), and with mothers (nurturing, caring, etc.)

We have often heard of fatherhood expressions, but here are several scriptures where God uses motherhood expressions to communicate His nurturing nature:

“He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.” [Isaiah 42:14]

“You ignored the Rock who gave you birth; you forgot the God who gave birth to you” [Deuteronomy 32:18]

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem” [Isaiah 66:13]

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” [Isaiah 49:15]

God communicated these truths so we might have an intimate relationship.

In Isaiah 49:15, God lets us know that He sees and understands that many of us may have lacked having (both) parents or lacked loving relationships with them. But God offers a beautiful commitment to nurture anyone who wants to have a relationship with Him as their parent:

"Although my father and my mother have abandoned me, Yet the LORD will take me up [adopt me as His child]." [Psalm 27:10] 

When we become God's children and experience His pure nurturing love, God models the correct character traits for us (regardless of the quality of examples we may have witnessed in other people.) When we obey and honor God, the intimacy of that relationship enables us to imitate Gods love towards ourselves and others:

"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children." [Ephesians 5:1]

Today, we are expressing our thankfulness for our mother's (and mother figures) and their nurturing love. Their examples help us to appreciate God’s love and His deep concern for every aspect of our lives.