Western culture is far removed from the ancient culture of Bible times. Sadly, in the midst of so much modern “progress” there are many eternal values that have been lost. One of those is revealed in our attitude toward the aged.
Contemporary culture, driven by media perception, places a premium on youth. Yet in Scripture we are told to honor the aged.
From the beginning, the Lord equated His people’s attitude toward the older generation with their attitude toward Him! Leviticus 19:32 says, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.” It is beautiful to see the connection between those considered “ancient” and the One who is called “the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:22).
Age means experience and experience brings wisdom. The oldest book in the Bible says, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (Job 12:12).
This does not mean that every older person is wise or that age automatically brings spiritual growth. There is a difference between age and stage! A young person can develop spiritual maturity and an aged person may be a spiritual baby. But the divine design was that, with age, people would have more and more understanding of the Lord and thus more and more to pass on to the generation following them.
“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
Listen to the old man who has walked with God! He has something to say. Listen to the aging woman who has remained faithful to God! She has truth to share. Do not be enamored with the perceived strength of youth and miss the real strength of endurance.
- This must be applied in our family. Remember that the first commandment with promise was to honor father and mother (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2). In an age where the elderly are often abused and, at best ignored, it is important that those who know God obey this principle. Take care of those who took care of you. “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). God uses some of His harshest language and promises hard judgment on those who will not care for their own aging loved ones (1 Timothy 5:8).
- This must be applied in the church family. God’s way is that the older men teach the younger men and the older women teach the younger women (Titus 2). This prescribed pattern has not changed. Here is good counsel for us all: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). We are to treat older men and women in the church body as we would treat our own father and mother (1 Timothy 5:1-2). Remember that they were patient with us! Be patient with them. Their pace may have slowed but their insight is vital as we move forward.
Parents get older and children are prone to think that their parents could not possibly understand what they are dealing with or how they think. Yet it is precisely that different perspective that allows them to give much needed counsel. Solomon’s son’s greatest mistake came on the day that he forsook the counsel of old men and took counsel from his peers (1 Kings 12:1-20).
Preachers get older and some people think they have nothing left to give. I would submit that they have more wisdom at this time than at any other time in life! As surely as we should not despise youth, we should not despise age. People in every season of life have something to pass on to all of us.
Listen to the old man…and remember that you will be old too, sooner than you think.