Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Honor Your Elders

by Nathan McClay

I received an email recently, notifying me that August 21 is Senior Citizen’s Day. I had not been aware that such a day even existed. Having just reached my 60th birthday, I will have to keep this holiday in mind for future reference.

Often as we watch the news or listen to the radio, we are reminded that there are days set aside to celebrate just about everything and anything from reading books, to chocolate, to pets, to ice cream, and donuts. We may argue at length about whether or not these various items are worthy of having a day assigned to them, but there should be no debate as to the value of our senior citizens. They are without a doubt to be listed among the most valuable of our human resources. Their hearing may be impaired, their vision dim, and their steps slow and unsteady at times. They may not be up to date on the latest technology and may possess less than half of the strength of their youth, but what they lack in these qualities, they more than make up for in the wisdom they have gained through their years of experience.

I recently lost my favorite senior citizen: my mother. She was a woman who took her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ very seriously, which could be observed by noticing her well-worn Bible, which she read every day, along with many other books from a local church library that my sister would bring to her. She entered the gates of heaven on Mother’s Day, which was the perfect Mother’s Day gift for a mother of seven, but for the seven left behind, it was and will continue to be a profound loss of immense proportions.

I suppose it is only natural when we lose someone who is so precious to us, that we long for at least one more visit to reminisce, to ask for just a word of advice or encouragement, or to simply express our love. I lived nearly 500 miles away from my mother, so I am glad that the Lord allowed me to spend some time with her in the weeks before her death and then again to be present when she took her final breath. Since there were so many times that I couldn’t be available to assist my mother over the years, I counted it a privilege to be able to move her frail 80-something pound body when it became necessary. When she thought of herself as a burden to us, her children, we reminded her of all that she had done for us over the years.

It is not just our parents who deserve a senior salute, but every school teacher, pastor, doctor, nurse, police officer, aunt, uncle, grandparent, and neighbor, who, through their positive influence, poured their lives into ours. They might be unable to fulfill all the duties that they once performed, and may be sitting on the sideline, watching time go by, but these are the very people who could use a visit, phone call, a note, or a text (if they text) to express our thankfulness and concern.

Not all seniors are sitting idly by. Many have energy that amazes us. Often in our local churches, it is the seniors that you will find doing as much as they can to serve the Lord. With retirement comes a schedule for some that is so busy, retirees will often remark that they don’t know how they ever had time to go to work.

The Bible sheds some interesting light on the issue of aging:

1. God loves and cares for senior citizens.

“Even to your old 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. (Isaiah 46:4). God’s promise through Isaiah is a comforting answer to the psalmist’s prayer, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.” (Ps. 91:7). Later in that same psalm he again pleads with God, “Now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” (Ps. 91:18)

2. God gives spiritual strength to the aging.  

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Some of our seniors that are the weakest physically, might be the strongest spiritually. Isaiah 40 tells us that the strength of the Lord is given to all who are faint and wait on Him. “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
3. With age comes wisdom.

I realize that there are exceptions to this rule, and there is a saying, “there is no fool like an old fool,” but we truly need the wisdom and insight that comes from experience that we can only find in those who have accumulated many years. “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders and they will tell you.” (Deut. 32:7)

4. The elderly folks are to be respected.

“You shall rise before the gray-headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 32:7). We are also commanded in both the old and new testaments to honor our father and mother.

5. The older generation passes the faith on to the next.

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Ps. 145:4. In Old Testament Jewish culture there was a great emphasis placed on remembrance so that the great things that the Lord had done for the nation of Israel would not be forgotten. This was accomplished through monuments, the singing of Psalms, and the writings of the law and the prophets. The entire book of Deuteronomy has remembrance as its theme.  Next time you come across one of life’s mountains that seems insurmountable, seek the counsel of a godly, older person and in most cases, you will hear from him or her a story that will encourage you in your adverse circumstances.

6. We should all prepare for the closing days of our earthly existence.

Psalm 90 says, “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  There is great wisdom in realizing that this life is not all that there is. There is an eternity that awaits us. There is a Savior who has done all that is necessary for us to have eternal life through Him. Those who are believers in Christ need to hear the words of our Lord as He reflects on the temporal versus the eternal and offers up this challenge, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21). As we think of our aging population and how fleeting life is, we need to realize that our days are numbered, and what we worked so hard for in this life in terms of material gain will not matter one bit in eternity. That should cause us to ask the question, “am I investing in eternity?”

Seniors through their experience and wisdom have so much to offer us through advice and counsel if we will only take the time to listen and allow them to share with us the lessons that they have learned through their journeys in this life. I saw this quote on Facebook, “When spending time with your parents seems like too much effort, remember…..one day, all you’ll have are the memories.” This quote would also apply to all those senior citizens who are our neighbors, friends, and relatives.  One day the memories of what they said and did will be all that we will have. Let’s esteem our seniors as our most valuable human resources.
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