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The Gray Head

Life is short.  James illustrated the brevity of life by writing, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).  Moses was more specific, saying, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Ps. 90:10).  Of course, Moses lived to the age of one hundred and twenty years (Deut. 34:7), but even his life was brief when measured against the vast span of history and time, which proved the truth of the psalm he wrote.

Knowing that life is short, it behooves us to make the best use of our days, including our later years.  Old age is not a time to give up or quit, but rather it is a time to press on to the finish of life.  Of course, the infirmities of old age take away much of our youthful vigor and vitality, and Solomon admonished us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth before we are limited by the effects of age (Eccl. 12:1-8).  However, as long as our minds are ready and our tongues are able, there will be opportunities to serve God at all ages.  Consider Psalm 71:17-18 – “O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds.  And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.”

In many ways, the aged have the most to contribute because of their wisdom of experience and years of learning.  Job said, “Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding” (Job 12:12).  In speaking of the righteous, the psalmist wrote, “They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Ps. 92:14-15).  In every dispensation of time, God has expected the elders of each generation to impart their wisdom and guidance to the next generation.  Consider how the early patriarchs led their families in the work and worship of God and how the elders of Israel guided God’s people in the ways of His Law.  This same pattern continues in the Lord’s church in which elders oversee each congregation (Tit. 1:5-9) and older men and women provide examples and instruction for younger men and women to follow (Tit. 2:2-8).  If the aged among God’s people do not contribute their wisdom, experience, and guidance, then the succeeding generations will be deprived of some of their most valuable resources.

Knowing that these things are true, it is necessary for the younger generation to seek their elders’ wisdom and embrace their guidance.  Notice how Israel’s regard for their elders was connected with their regard for God – “'You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32).  Honoring the aged is an obligation before God for younger men and women.  It is their responsibility to recognize the tremendous spiritual resources available to them through the older generation.  A younger person must view an older person in the way expressed in Proverbs 16:31 – “A gray head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness.”  Just as a younger person sees the virtues of youth, he must also see the virtues of old age as expressed in Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.”  Those who are spiritually minded will recognize that the aged are a treasure of knowledge, and they will seek to tap into it.

Therefore, let every generation do its part whereby God may be rightly glorified in the world.  Let the senior citizens of God’s kingdom guide the junior citizens in wisdom and knowledge.  Let the younger men and women seek the valuable treasure that is present in their elders, and let them honor their aged with reverence for God and His will.  In doing these things, the older generation will bear fruit throughout their old age, and the younger generation will be equipped to bear fruit for years to come as the Lord gives them opportunity.  This permits both old and young alike to please our God and Father in heaven.

Stacey E. Durham




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