About a month ago, my friend Emma M texted me to inform me that our mutual friend Emma S's grandfather had passed away. I was upset for my friend because I knew how much she loved her grandfather. I am also genuinely sad that such a lovely man has left us. This situation may seem unusual, as not many of us get to meet our friends' grandparents, and if we do, it's usually in passing at an event a wedding or party or something similar.
This man was truly exceptional. Despite his advanced age of 96 years, he managed to remain fully engaged with the world around him and took an active interest in the lives of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He welcomed them and all their friends into his home with open arms, and his warm and compassionate spirit was evident in all his interactions. Even as his body began to slow down with age, he never lost his passion for life and his infectious enthusiasm for the world around him. During the times I met him, we shared many meals and conversations, and it was always an absolute delight to be in his company. His positive outlook on life and his unwavering commitment to his family and loved ones is an inspiration to us all.
This is how we are meant to be as we age, well actually throughout our Christian faith rejoicing and having joy in all circumstances in youth and in maturity.
It's fascinating to look at the subject of aging. When we talk about aging, we often refer to the Titus verses that encourage older women to teach younger women and younger women to listen and learn. While this is the ultimate goal, the Bible offers more insights on aging.
There's a verse in the Bible, Psalm 90:12, that reminds us to count our days. It says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." This implies that those who don't, won't. Not all older people are wise. In fact, if we look at the world today, some of the older generation, in their effort to cling to youth or to be more relevant, act more crudely, irresponsibly, and foolishly than their young counterparts. Unfortunately as Christians, we sometimes demand respect, to be listened to, to be honoured. But our lives, our choices our attitudes, and lack of wisdom can prove that we are not wise and don't deserve the respect we demand.
What Does the Bible Say About Old Age?
The topic can be divided into three parts:
· How old people should be treated.
· Internal – life of the mature Christian
· External – life of the mature Christian
1) How older people should be treated
Every person is created in the image of God and therefore deserves respect. This includes older people who have been blessed with a long life by God. As He is the one who gives and takes away life, we should show respect to those who are older.
In both the Old and New Testament, we see examples of older widows being visited and taken care of. In our church many take care of older people within the congregation it is a blessing to observe.
We can also learn from the wisdom that comes with age. If an older person has learned lessons throughout their life, we should ask them questions and take note of their responses.
As 1 Timothy tells us, we should listen and not despise older people. In our youth, we may think we know everything, but we should be open to learning and taking instruction. We should also honour our fathers and mothers, especially in old age.
Furthermore, we should not rebuke an older person harshly. Instead, we should encourage them as we would our own father. In summary, these biblical instructions teach us to treat older people with kindness, love, to encourage, to ask, to listen respect, and care for and honour.
2) The internal life of the mature Christian
What is at our core? What defines us? The Bible provides some answers:
God restores life and nourishes our soul.
God is with us, as seen in Isaiah, and inward renewal is described in 2 Corinthians.
We can find stability in God, who is our rock, according to Psalms.
Whether we have been Christians our from an early age or only recently became believers, the result is the same. God restores us, nourishes our souls, and provides us with inward renewal through the Holy Spirit.
Colossians 3:5-14 reminds us that this renewal is not something we achieve on our own. Rather, God has given us the Holy Spirit to transform and sanctify us.
These truths should strengthen us and bring us joy. As we grow older and face the changes and challenges of life, we are reminded that God is present with us and is still sanctifying us. We can rely on Him as our rock and ever-present help in times of trouble.
It is comforting to remember these truths when life becomes difficult and our identity shifts. Despite all the changes, God remains with us through it all.
3) External life of the mature Christian
As we age, our bodies may become weaker, slower, and more easily tired. Yet, as Christians, we know that our strength comes from God. Wendie has touched on this before, but it's worth reiterating that God is our rock, and we can rely on Him to give us the strength we need.
However, aging isn't just about our physical bodies. It's also about what we have to offer to those around us. As older adults, we have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom acquired through the lessons we've learned throughout our lives. Our minds should be full of this knowledge, turned into wisdom, and we should be full of understanding, not judgmental. We should have compassionate hearts that seek to understand others.
One of our most important roles as older adults is to be an example to the younger generations. Our lives are slower, so more easily observed so we need to be setting an example of where we go and what we do. How we act has a twofold purpose: to honour and obey God and to not lead others astray. We are meant to be righteous, morally upright.
The young are meant to ask us questions and listen to us. We should use our speech to encourage, teach, and advise them. Our words are to give life, we are not gossips or slanderers, from our lips the bible tells us that we declare that the lord is upright, and we declare God's goodness and that he is our rock.
My favourite verse I came across while looking into this topic reminds us that even though we are aging, we are to be fruitful, vital, and green.
It's important to remember that old age doesn't mean we wither away in a corner waiting to be disposed of. In the book of Psalms, the old are likened to a tree – tall, strong, thriving, and blossoming because of God's blessing. That is what we are to be like – thriving and blossoming because of God's blessing, yielding fruit of service, the fruit of example, of encouragement, of teaching, wisdom, and of course, the fruit of the Spirit. All of these should radiate from us.
All of this is what an older person is like: vital, fruitful, wise, with a core of knowing that God is their rock. As we age, we can continue to grow and learn and become more like Christ. We can continue to contribute to the world around us, to our church family, sharing our knowledge and wisdom with those who come after us. We can be an example of what it means to live a life that honours and obeys God, and we can experience the joy that comes from knowing that we are fulfilling His purpose for us.
This post begins with a story about an old man I once knew. Now, I will end with the story of an old woman whom I hope to meet one day in glory.
She is a character from the Bible, and she was a grumpy old woman who was bitter due to her great losses. Her husband and sons died, leaving her with no security. When she returns to her hometown of Bethlehem, her friends and family are shocked by her appearance and ask, "Can this be Naomi?
Naomi responds, "Don't call me Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter) instead. The years have been unkind to me. I've lost everything." In her grief, she fails to see the blessings in her life and instead tells her daughters-in-law that the hand of God is against her. She also tells the people in Bethlehem that the Almighty has dealt bitterly with her and that she went away full but has returned empty.
However, Naomi does eventually recognize the goodness of God when Ruth finds work in the field of Boaz. She blesses Boaz, recognizing that the Lord's kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead. Naomi gives instructions to Ruth, who dutifully and faithfully carries them out. Boaz ultimately redeems Ruth, and they marry and live happily ever after.
As we know that is not the end of the story, a baby is given to Naomi, and God provides for her, restores her, and nourishes her soul. Naomi sees that Ruth is better than seven sons and gains a purpose in her life and an heir for her family. She does not realize the blessings that will come from this child, but we do, Israel’s king, King David and ultimately Our King Jesus, who restores and nourishes our souls.