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.
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)
I suppose the younger generation has always been tempted to grow impatient with their elders. It should not be so. Israel was instructed 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). Children should be taught to respect their parents. In turn, this trains young people to treat older men and women with similar dignity. Simple expressions like, “yes, ma’am” and “no sir” naturally flow from the lips of those who learn and live respect for their elders. Even when Timothy would have to disagree with an older man (which would invariably occur as he worked as an evangelist, 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:24-26), he was to show respect in his demeanor and in his words. Elihu is an excellent example of how a younger man respectfully approached older men with whom he disagreed (Job 32:4-10). He waited to speak, listening to the older men first (v. 4). He spoke with respectful humility, acknowledging his youth before the aged (v. 6-7). He did not shrink from speaking God’s truth, asking the aged for a fair hearing (v. 8-10). Treat those older than you with respect, not annoyance; with dignity, not disdain; with humility, not haughtiness. By doing so, you will be respected in return (1 Tim. 4:12).
17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. 18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. (Psalm 71:17–18, NKJV)
From youth to old age, God teaches us of His mighty works. His creation speaks to us of unseen things – “His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20). The heavens declare His glory (Psa. 19:1). From childhood, His Holy Scriptures teach wisdom and salvation to those who are trained thereby (2 Tim. 3:15). Those who are faithful to Him declare His wonderful works. Age does not diminish this righteous man’s determination to tell the next generation of God’s powerful works. May our resolve grow stronger as we grow older, to tell the next generation of the Almighty and His great works. Tell them of His eternal power, and of His enduring love. Tell them of His truth and His salvation (Psa. 71:15, 23-24). May the younger generation learn well the lessons their predecessors have discovered; youth fades and the body weakens, but the power and righteousness of God endures forever. Praise Him until your last breathe. He will be your everlasting strength.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV)
Living in God’s grace does not give Christians a license to have arrogant attitudes, words and deeds toward one another. There ought to be a symbiotic relationship between younger and older Christians; interdependent, instead of independent, of each other. In another context, Paul said, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Rom. 14:7). We need each other. Therefore, proper respect and regard ought to be shown by all. Younger saints should yield to their elders out of respect and consideration. An older Christians should not discount and despise a fellow saint simply due to their youth. We are yield to one another out of humility. After all, God will not receive the proud; He favors the humble. Commit yourself to developing a humble attitude. Be humble by using kind words and respectful actions toward your brethren in Christ.