Old Age

Old Age

 

If we live long enough we will all reach a ripe old age, so itís important that we learn what Bible says about old age and how we should view it as Christians. Letís begin in,

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:  2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;  3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;  4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;  5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;  6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;  7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;  8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

 

Solomon gives us a general list of things that most of us will experience in our lifetime. From the time we are born to the time we die, there will be ups and downs during that time. As we age and go through the seasons of life, our way of thinking changes as well. For instance, in our early childhood, we are learning about life and experiencing new things and we think that mom & dad just about know it all. Then when we become teenagers our bodies start changing into adult bodies and many times we think we are invincible and that we know it all. We no longer think mom & dad are smart, we think there dumb and we donít listen to them like we used to. Then, when we become young adults and start raising kids of our own, we began to realize that mom & dad may not know everything, but they know a lot more than we do and once again most of us will begin to ask them advice on how to deal with their kids and other situations that happen in life. Then as we grow older, we began to obtain wisdom from the experiences that we have had in our life. As we get older we slow down and our bodies began to wear out, but we have a great understanding of what is important in life. We know that its not material things, but it is God and our families.

 

However, sometimes older people might start thinking the God doesnít care for them anymore because they are so old. Two different times, David pleaded with God not to forsake Him in His old age in Psalm 71. But there was no need for him or any old Christian to think that God would ever forsake them because He will not. God assured the Jews of the OT of this in,

 

Isaiah 46:3 " Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb:  4 Even to yourold age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

 

He has also assured all Christians of this as well in,

 

Hebrews 13:5  "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

The Bible speaks highly of the old,

 

Proverbs 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head.

 

Proverbs 16:31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.

 

When we are young, we have our physical strength and lots of energy, but when we get older and become weaker, our hair turns gray, but it is not the end of the world. Our gray hair is the beauty of old age and we should consider it as a crown of glory if we have been living faithfully to God. We should rejoice in our old age realizing the wisdom that we now have and knowing that we can use that wisdom to help others grow closer to God.

 

When we get older and retire from our jobs, sometimes we like to retire from working for God. We convince ourselves that we have labored long enough and now it is time for the younger people to do the work, but this should not be the attitude that we have. When we retire from our jobs, we have more time on our hands that we could use serve God.

 

Even though we may be slowing down physically, we need to realize that our spirit should be stronger than ever as Paul says in,

 

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Paul is teaching us that it doesnít matter what the condition of your physical body is because your spirit, or your inward man, is being renewed or strengthened day by day. So, those aches and pains that we experience as we grow older should not hold us back from serving God because we should know that our journey in this life is almost over and the pains of this life are only temporary and they donít compare to the eternal weight of glory that we will experience in heaven for eternity. So, this teaches us that there is no room for retirement for a Christian

 

Psalm 92:13 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;.

 

These verse show without a doubt that when you are planted in the house of the Lord, which every faithful Christian is, it doesnít matter if you are young or old you are to flourish  and bear fruit for the Lord. God is able to use all His people, no matter what their age.

 

With this thought in mind, letís take a quick look at some examples of how older people served the Lord. Our first example comes from Moses.

 

Moses teaches us in Psalm 90:10 that the normal life span during his time was 70 to 80 years old. Yet, how old was Moses and his brother Aaron when God called them to serve by taking on the Pharaoh of Egypt?

 

Exodus 7:7  And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

 

By all rights Moses and Aaron were very old and most did not make it to their age, yet they are now serving God in one of the greatest events in the OT and Moses and Aaron continued you to serve God as leaders of the people for another 40 years.

 

Our next example comes from Joshua and Caleb. If will remember these were the only 2 men that were allowed to enter into the promise land that was over 20 years old from the beginning of the exodus because they were they were only two spies that did not doubt Godís ability to help them conquer the promise land. 38 years after that day, Joshua becomes the new leader of the children of  Israel and they began to conquer the promise land with Godís help. Joshua did all this in the last 30 years of his life starting at the age of 90 until he died at 110 (Josh 24:29). In his old age, He served God well.

 

Also Caleb was involved in this conquest as well. Notice what he tells Joshua in,

 

Joshua 14:7 "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.  8"Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.  9 "So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.'  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. 

 

Even though Caleb was old, he still felt strong because he knew he was serving God. Lets take a look a few NT examples.

 

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name wasElizabeth.  6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.  7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

 

These two were old, yet we find Zacharias is still serving as priest in Godís temple and  Elizabeth becomes pregnant with John the Baptist. Then these two were giving specific instructions on how to raise their son and again they served God in their old age.

 

Luke 2:36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;  37and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

 

This elderly lady was 84 years old and she was still serving God day and night at the temple. Finally, we have the example of the apostle Paul who referred to himself as the aged one in Phm. 1:9. In his older age he still went around encouraging the congregations he had started and he took the time to write letters of encouragement when he was in and out of prison. He was the hardest working apostles and He didnít let his age keep him from serving God.

 

We learn from all these examples that old age is not the time that we stop serving the Lord, itís the time that we dig in deep and endure.

 

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,

 

Paul describes a Christian life as race on several occasions. In the beginning of a race, you are at your strongest physically and you are ready to go, but as the race continues it become more difficult and you starting getting tired. Those last few laps of the race are hardest and it takes a determined spirit to finish the race. That is exactly what we must do in our Christians lives. Just because were getting old, doesnít mean that we quite the race. No, we must finish the race. We must have the attitude of the apostle Paul,

 

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

 

So even in your old age there is much work to be done for the Lord. For instance, a great work that is always needed in the church is an elder. I have known men that were in their 80ís that were still effectively serving the Lord as an elder. Older men who have been faithful Christians for a long time, are going to know how to lead and deal with problems that arise in the church.

 

Another great work that older people can do is found in,

 

Titus 2:1But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:  2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;  3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things --  4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.  6 Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,  8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

 

This is one area that I think every congregation needs to improve in. The older ladies have gathered a lot of wisdom over the years on how to deal with children, husbands and life in general. They know what works and what doesnít. They have so much wisdom they could share with the younger ladies, so they donít have to make some the same mistakes they did.

 

In similar way the older men can pass on their wisdom to the younger men. They can encourage them to become future leaders in the church and how they should conduct themselves as servants of God.

 

In order for this to work, the younger people must learn to respect the wisdom of those that are older than them.

 

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.

 

Proverbs 12:1  Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

 

Sometimes younger people will think that they have everything figured out and they donít think that the older person knows what they are talking about. So, instead of listening to their wisdom they do things their way and many times they find out in the end that they should have listened to their elders. A great example of this comes from King Solomonís son Rehoboam.

 

1 Kings 12:3 Then Jeroboam and the whole assembly of  Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,  4 "Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you."  5 So he said to them, "Depart for three days, then come back to me." And the people departed.  6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, "How do you advise me to answer these people?"  7 And they spoke to him, saying, "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." 

 

At this point in history the Jews were all one nation, but they were not happy with the way things were and they want Rehoboam to change things so things will be easier on them. Now, at first he does the right thing, he asked the elders, that is these older men who had served under his father. They gave him some good advice on how to appease these people, but watch what he does with the great advice as we continue on,

 

1 Kings 12:8  But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.  9 And he said to them, "What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, 'Lighten the yoke which your father put on us'?"  10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, "Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us' -- thus you shall say to them: 'My little finger shall be thicker than my father's waist!  11 'And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!' "

 

Rehoboam decided to reject the wisdom of his elders and then embrace the advice of those that were young like him. Now it was Godís providence that this happened this way, but you can clearly see that if he had taken his elders advice it would have appeased the people, but since he rejected their wisdom and spoke harshly to the people, it led to the great division where 10 of the tribes of Israel left and made the northern kingdom of Israel. So, let us never forget to learn from the wisdom of those that are older than us.

 

Of course there are many other ways that older people can serve the Lord and others as well besides sharing their wisdom. They can send people cards when they are sick or have a birthday. They can pick up the phone and encourage other Christians with their words. They can go and visit the sick if they are able. They can spend a lot time praying for others. The list could go on and on, but the whole point is that we need to do what we can for the Lord and realize that our labor will not be in vain.

 

When we dig in and keep busy for the Lord, then we can all say what Paul did at the end of his life.

 

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

 

So, keep pressing on and donít ever give up on serving the Lord. I want close this lesson with a poem,

 

 

                            "Iím Not Growing OldĒ

                        They say that I am growing old.

                        Iíve heard them say it times untold

                        In language plain and bold.

                        But Iím not growing old;

                        This frail old shell in which I dwell

                        Is growing old I know full well,

                        But Iím not growing old.

 

                        What if my hair has turned gray?

                        Gray hair is honorable, they say.

                        What if my eyesightís growing dim?

                        I can still see to follow Him

                        Who sacrificed His life for me

                        There on the cross of  Calvary.

 

                        Why should I care if timeís old plow

                        Has dug some furrows in my brow?

                        Another house, not made with hand,

                        Awaits me in the glory land.

                        My hearing may not be as keen

                        As in the past, it may have been;

                        Still, I can hear my Savior say

                        Come faltering child, this is the way.

 

                        The outward man, do what I can

                        To lengthen out this lifeís short span,

                        Shall perish and return to dust

                        As everything in nature must.

                        But the inward man the Scriptures say,

                        Ah, the inward man

                        Is growing stronger every day.

 

                        Then how can I be growing old?

                        Iím safe within the Saviorís fold.

                        ĎEr long my soul shall fly away

                        And leave this tenement of clay.

                        This robe of flesh Iíll drop and rise

                        To seize the everlasting prize.

                        Iíll meet you on the streets of gold

                        And prove that Iím not growing old.

                                                            ó John E. Roberts