16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 4:16–18, NKJV)!
Paul could have been bitter as he surveyed his situation. He was now aged, and life was nearing its end (Philem. 9; 2 Tim. 4:6). Demas had forsaken him for this present evil age (2 Tim. 4:10). Alexander, the coppersmith, had done him much harm and resisted the gospel Paul taught (2 Tim. 4:14-15). No one stood with him when he defended himself before the Roman authorities (v. 16). But Paul was not weakened in faith. The Lord rescued Paul from inevitable demise (the lion’s mouth). The Lord would certainly deliver him even though death was near. His faith was in the Lord, not people (v. 17). Paul fixed his faith on the everlasting, heavenly kingdom and deliverance from the evils of this world (v. 18; 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Do not become embittered when people let you down, hurt you, and forsake you. The Lord will not fail you (Heb. 13:5-6). Wouldn’t it have been tragic if Paul had become a bitter, cynical old man at the end of his life? His example of steadfast faith continues to strengthen aged ones whose faith is in the Lord.
Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22, NKJV)
We join today with sons and daughters the world over as they honor their mothers. God, the giver of all good gifts, has given us the wonderful gift of mothers. Mothers are tireless givers, fierce protectors, and sacrificial sustainers of their children’s lives. Godly mothers also tend to the spiritual lives of their children. Like Eunice and Lois, the mother and grandmother of Timothy, God-fearing mothers teach their children sincere faith in Christ (2 Tim. 1:5). Sadly, not every son and daughter respects and honors the blessings of their mother’s love, devotion, and sacrifice. It is hard for us to understand why children turn their backs on their mothers, but it happens. Wise Solomon warned against despising your mother in her old age. The mother who bore you and kept you alive when you could not do so yourself may well need you to care for her one day. Be patient with your mother as she ages. Be kind to her. Show her your love. Doing so will comfort her heart and assure her of your love and respect. It will also show your respect for God, who gave us motherhood. After all, without mothers, you would not be here. None of us would. Indeed, that deserves our respect and honor—that, and so much more.
10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” (Joshua 14:10–11, NKJV)
Even in old age, faithful Caleb was ready to wage war against the enemies of God’s people. He succeeded in occupying Hebron as his portion of the inheritance (Josh. 15:13-14). Even though our physical strength diminishes with age, there is much older men and women of faith can accomplish for the Lord. The psalmist observed that “the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,” and “they shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psa. 92:12-14). As the COVID-19 virus is especially (although not exclusively) attacking the elderly among us, we see a refreshing concern for the elderly among us. Aged men and women are valuable, and aged Christians have work to do in the kingdom (Titus 2:2-5). Instead of discarding the aged as burdensome, Israel was commanded, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32). They were to learn that showing respect to the older person reflects their reverence for God. If you are older, seize this time of life and be strong in faith, even as your body grows weaker. If you are younger, respect for the older generation, because God willing, you will be in their shoes one day.
You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32, NKJV)
Growing old is natural. The old were once young, and the young will become old. These things are too self-evident to warrant comment. Today’s command from the Law of Moses trained Israel to have respect for the elderly. But more than that, showing respect toward the aged is described as growing out of one’s fear of God. He is “Lord” (YHWH, Jehovah), the eternally-existing one. Ultimately, we do not have power over the aging process, He does. Being disrespectful toward an older people reflects a fundamental failure to respect God , who gives life (both young and old). So, when you come upon an older person in the grocery store who can no longer push the shopping cart as quickly as you, don’t become frustrated. When the older person is driving slower than you think he should, be patient. The “old man” should not be discounted because of his age, any more than the strength of the youth should be discounted by the aged. There is a place in this world for both. “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29). Whether young or old, we must fear God because He is timeless.
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails. 10 For my enemies speak against me; And those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together, 11 Saying, “God has forsaken him; Pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.” (Psalm 71:9–11, NKJV)
How a person treats the aged exposes that person’s reverence for God. Israel was told to “rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God; I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32). Far too many cast off the elderly when they become a burden (real or perceived). Far too many prey on the aged by leveraging their fears and anxieties against them in order to profit from their weakness. The Lord is an avenger against such wickedness. He will not forsake the aged who rely on Him. Like this psalmist, the elderly are encouraged to continue trusting in the Lord (Psa. 71:1-7). The aged deserve our honor, respect and compassion; not our impatience, insensitivity and harshness. So, respect the elderly. One day, by God’s grace, you will be aged.
4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. 5 For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. (Psalm 71:4-5)
Evil, cruel people prey upon the aged. They are vulnerable, an easy target for the unscrupulous. Yet, even in old age there is refuge in the Lord. He protects and delivers those who put their trust in Him. Psalm 71 is the prayer of an aged man for God’s deliverance from ruthless predators (v. 1-4). He put his trust and hope in the Lord from his youth, enduring many trials of faith through which the Lord had delivered him (v. 5-6). Instead of becoming despondent as life drew to its end, he was more devoted to praising God and declaring the Lord’s power to the next generation (v. 7, 17-18, 22). This aged saint also told others of God’s salvation and righteousness (v. 14-15, 24). Follow his example and be a beacon of light in your old age. Imitate his faith and exclaim, “O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” because “You are my rock and my fortress” (v. 12, 3).
The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31)
The aged man or woman ought to be shown respect. Too often the elderly are forgotten by family and friends too busy to be bothered. How sad, both for the aged as well as those who carelessly dispose of them. (Remember, if you are blessed with a long life you will be the aged person one day. How will you want to be treated then?) Nevertheless, the aged are held to account by God. Being elderly does not give one the right to be cranky, unkind and mean-spirited. The honor of old age is observed in the righteous example that is consistently lived in spite of the constant realities of life’s last days. If you are young, show respect to the elderly. If you are aged, remember that your example of righteousness benefits many others, bringing glory to you and to your God.