September: ELDERS

Your heart is revealed by the way you treat elders. – Proverbs 23:7 – For as a man thinketh in his/her heart so is he/she.

Like children, the elders can be a burden. But unlike children, they offer no hope or promise. They are weight and an encumbrance and a mirror of our own mortality.

It takes a person of great heart to see past this fact to the wisdom elders have to offer and to serve them with gratitude – for the life they have passed on to us. (Kent Nerburn)

Proverbs 39:4-5 – Show me Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. -Verse5 – You have made my days a mere hard-breath the span of my years is as nothing before you.

Having gratitude for our elders is not easy in this culture. We have lost a feel for them. They are a sad gray presence hidden behind clumsy phrases like “the elderly, “senior citizens,” and “retired persons,” etc. They are tolerated out of guilt, feared for the burden they represent, or shunted aside into irrelevance. They are not loved and honored and sought for the wisdom that their years have given them.

Leviticus-19:32 – “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

Even if theirs was the simplest, most limited, most ordinary of lives, the elders saw the world into which you have come. No other past generation is as close to yours; no other life so close in time, their stories have the blood of your life running through them: You will never be so close to the world that gave birth to you as you are speaking to them. For that and that alone you should honor and revere them and give them your ear: you are bonded in time. But more than that, the elders offer a glimpse into your own future. They were you and you will be them, you carry the seeds of your old age in you at this very moment, and they hear the echoes of their younger years each time they are in your presence. Each touch you have with them makes you wiser in ways you cannot imagine.

Proverbs 16:31 – Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is attained by righteous life.

Still many old people are not pleasant. They are as filled with themselves and their own concerns as are the very young. They ask you to think about their needs and feelings with little or no concern for yours.

Isaiah – 64:6- We all do fade as a leaf.

When we meet such elders, do not be blinded by their unpleasantness, like young children, they are dependent on the world around them and they very often fear the loss of their own importance.

I Timothy 5:1- Do not rebuke an older man harshly but exhort him/her as if he/she is your father or mother.

They face the uncertainty of death and are often embittered that the world they worked so hard to create is being discarded by the generations now in power. Their bodies are giving out on them. They increasingly find themselves surrounded only by people their own age, because they know that the young would rather be apart from them. They often live in memories.

Psalm 92:14- They will still bear fruit in old age.

Look past these surface behaviors, look to the person, not to the infirmities and idiosyncrasies when you are tired or ill or full of anger and pain; you too may not be pleasant. For many elders these are the condition of their lives, but beneath the surface of their actions is a level of insight that only age can teach.

2 Corinthians 4:16-Therefore we do not lose heart, but, though our outward man is wasting away, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. -Verse17-For our light and momentary earthly troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Avoid the pitfall of pity when dealing with the elders. Too many people, under the guise of caring, patronize and demean the very old by treating them like children. They speak to them loudly, or as if they are simpletons. They interpret the elders concern for the small details of life as a return to the infantile. In action and in manner they strip the elders of the very respect they claim to be giving them. Such behavior holds up mirrors in which the elders must see their infirmity, not mirrors in which they can see their humanity…True caring and respect serve the weakness, but mirror only the humanity and the strength, caring and respect listen, laugh and even challenge, they assume that the words and actions of the elders are to be taken seriously.

Deuteronomy 1:17- Do not show partiality in judging…hear both small, young and old alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgement belongs to God…-Romans 12:9-10-Let love be without hypocrisy, abhor that which is vile…cling to that which is good…-Verse10-Be kindly affectioned one to another with unfeigned love is honor preferring one another.

Even in their infirmity, elders seek and value their dignity. They want above all else, to feel that their lives are still valued, and that the world they made and the knowledge they gained are not being cast aside.

Job 12:2- With the ancient is wisdom and in length of days is understanding.

So love the elders, honor them with a pure heart, unblinded by notions of false reverence or obligation and unaffected by self-preserving feelings of pity, listen to them, observe them, like a far-off country that you will someday visit, and learn the lessons they have to teach.

1 Peter 2:2 – Seeing that you have purified yourselves by your obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for one another deeply from the heart.

If you can honor and respect them and allow them to share the fruits of their experience, however, simple these fruits might be, you will gain a gift you can get nowhere else. You will gain the knowledge of your past, and the wisdom to understand your future.
Ephesians 6:2-3 – Honor your father/mother/elderly which is the first commandment with a promise…Verse3- that it may go well with you.

Words of Wisdom

Respect your elders, don’t criticize them, they are just what we would be as we age.

-make new friends, but keep the old one for one is silver and the other gold;

-age is like love it cannot hide;

-who honors not age is not worthy of it;

-the golden age is before and not behind us;

-Gray hair is the splendor of the old;

-when a man gets old to set a bad example, he/she begins to give good advice
Well, my dear reader friends, many thanks once again for your enthusiasm and interest in my small bits of good tidings. Please do not hesitate to call – 204-615-7268