What’s wrong with being “old?”
I was called “old” a few weeks ago because I am pushing 40. I have an “old” car because it has over 100,000 miles on it. And my iPhone is “old” because it’s a 4s (there may be some truth to this one).
We don’t generally think of “old” as being good, unless we are talking about an antique piece of furniture or a vintage car. For many, “old” is less than desirable, used to describe something that is inferior to newer, better, brighter, and stronger. The message is clear: new is good and “old” is bad.
But in God’s eyes, old is good – especially in reference to godly men and women.
In the Bible, the old are described as wise (Job 12:12) and worthy of honor (Leviticus 19:32, Titus 2:2-3). For those who are righteous, gray hair is like a “crown of splendor” (Proverbs 16:31). They are men and women who are honorable because of their holiness. Their lives are examples not because of their perfection, but because of their perseverance in faith (Hebrews 11). The Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy to remind him that older men and women are to be treated with the same respect as a father or mother (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
In God’s eyes, old is not bad. The old are not “past their prime” but are to be ever more purposeful with their time.
Psalm 71:18 says, “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Those advancing in age are to be men and women living with eternal purpose, intentional about passing on godly wisdom, truth, and praise to the next generation.
Older men and women of this character are greatly needed. We need them in the church and we need them in our families. We need parents, grandparents, and if we are fortunate enough, great-grandparents who are not only present, but purposeful.
Here are a few reasons why old is good for the life of the family:
We need their wisdom – Within a two-year span, I lost my father suddenly, and my mother slowly. Both passed from this life, to the next, far too soon. Not only did I lose my parents, but our children also lost their grandparents. I often think of the many stories, life-events, and lessons that will be missed because of their deaths. Fortunately, my wife’s parents are actively involved in our family and are a tremendous blessing to us and our kids. Parents and grandparents are often a source of untapped wisdom for many families. Time and distance are not the only obstacles to developing meaningful relationships. Sometimes our lack of humility can keep us from learning from those who have walked where we haven’t walked yet.
We need their history – We need the old to anchor us to history – the history of our churches, our faith, and our families. The old offer us perspective. We need their stories to remind us that we are a part of something bigger – bigger than just our immediate family. History teaches us we stand in a long line of those who came before us and those who will come after. Parents and grandparents, with their legacy and history, help us steward our part of the story well.
We need their example – Shortly before my mom passed away, a friend asked her what she had learned the most since her husband (my dad) had passed away. Her response was simple: God’s grace is sufficient. Was her loss painful? Yes. Did she mourn and miss her husband of 49 years? Absolutely. But she had found God’s promise to be true and His grace sufficient. Parents and grandparents remind us that life is hard, full of unexpected events, a journey of both triumphs and trials. Those who have persevered before us give us hope, joy, security, and sometimes, just the encouragement to keep pressing on!
We need all the good the old have to offer. While a husband and wife’s relationship to one another should be the priority relationship, it doesn’t have to be to the exclusion of parents, grandparents, and older men and women of faith. We need their wisdom, stories, encouragement, perspective, and example.
In God’s eyes, old is not bad – the old are good — very good — for the family.