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.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:13–15, NKJV)
Old age does not prevent bearing fruit for the Lord. When one’s life is rooted in God’s house (a Christian in His church, 1 Tim. 3:15), age does not prevent us from declaring the righteousness of God and the solid foundation of security we have in Him. When age is coupled with faith in the living God we do not lose heart, for “even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16, 17-18). There is much you can do in the kingdom as an elderly Christian. You can pray earnestly and keep your hope firmly fixed on the Lord (Psa. 71:1-14). You can rejoice in God’s salvation and worship God continually (Psa. 71:8, 22-23). Like Simeon and Anna, you can speak God’s truth to others and tell the next generation of God’s strength and mercy (Psa. 71:18-20; Lk. 2:25-32, 36-38). What a marvelous and encouraging influence older Christians have as they faithfully assemble for worship, wisely teach and counsel from God’s word, and live in the hope of eternity! Although our bodies are growing drier and weaker, our faith will be fresh and flourish as we trust the Lord and do His will each day. The legacy you will leave is a life of faith and heavenly treasures in the Lord (Matt. 6:19-21).
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.
1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1–2, NKJV)
Kind and respectful words, even when correction is in order, conveys honor for the aged. Younger people are tempted to speak roughly to the elderly, losing their patience and being disrespectful with their words and actions. Paul warns against such here. “The term ‘rebuke,’ mentioned here only in the New Testament, describes a severe verbal pounding” (The New American Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, Lea & Griffin, 34:145). The wise young person knows that one day he or she will be old and will appreciate being addressed with respectful words. Be it noted that Paul assumes fathers and mothers are spoken to with respect and regard; another important lesson for every generation. How a person speaks to his elders and about his elders says a good deal about his character.
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.