But for some strange reason, we often ignore our aged friends. We think it’s more fun to talk to our own peer group. We worry that we won’t know what to say to the old people, that there is no common ground between us and that they are out of touch with the issues we face. ‘After all,’ we think, ‘it’s been 50 or 60 years since they were our age and a lot has changed in that time.’
Let’s look at what the Bible says about the elderly. Leviticus 19 verse 32 commands us to ‘rise before the grey-headed and honour the presence of an old man’ and 1 Timothy 5 verse 3 teaches us to ‘honour widows who are really widows’. If we are serious about pleasing God, we will treat older Christians with the utmost respect. They have served the Lord for many years, through happy and sad times, easy and hard times. They have persevered almost to the end and God counts them worthy of a glorious crown of silver hair! (Proverbs 16 v 31).
Just because their physical bodies are frail and weak doesn’t mean that the elderly are past their best. God declares in Psalm 92 that ‘those who are planted in the house of the Lord…shall still bear fruit in old age. They shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright’. They may need lots of practical help, but they still have much to teach us about living for God’s glory.
Initially you may find it hard to leave a group of laughing friends at church and go and talk to that old lady sitting on her own in the corner. It will require self-denial to go shopping for an elderly friend when you could have had a relaxing afternoon at home. But just try it. They will greatly appreciate it, you may find you really enjoy it – they have fascinating stories to tell and delicious biscuits to nibble – and you will certainly learn from it. Above all, it is pleasing to the Lord, who ‘raises those who are bowed down’ and ‘relieves the fatherless and widow’. (Psalm 146 v 8-9).
By Naomi Wells
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