One of the greatest resources that God has given to the Christian church is old people. Blessed is the congregation that has many of them! The proverb writer tells us that “the hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Pro 16:31).
Sometimes the elderly saints among us may feel like the psalmist when he said, “cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth” (Psa 71:9). They may feel like they are past their prime of usefulness. They may feel that they do not make a significant contribution to their congregations. They may feel that church life hurries on without them.
But God has wisely designed that the society of the Church be composed, not only of young and middle-aged saints, but of older saints as well; for older saints make a definite contribution to church life.
Older saints contribute to our church life by living worthy examples of faithfulness and fruitfulness. “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psa 92:13–14). Their tenacious resolve to defend Truth, their firm commitment to obey the Scriptures, and their enthusiastic encouragement to press on in the Faith serve as worthy exemplars for the saints that follow them. Many older saints are staunch, powerful prayer warriors, beseeching the throne of God on behalf of the Church and the rising generation.
Older saints contribute to our church life by providing a “bridge” back to the past. “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psa 71:18). This prayer of David implies that aged brothers and sisters have the ability to share experiences of God’s work among His people in the past generation. This serves as a link in the “chain” of faith that connects our present generation to that “cloud of faithful witnesses” from the past that encourages us to “run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Older saints contribute to our church life by infusing the “voice of experience” into the passionate fervor of the younger and youth. “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding” (Job 12:12-13). It is usually the younger members of our churches who have the energy and enthusiasm to establish new mission points or to launch into additional spheres of ministry. But it is the older members of our churches who have the wisdom and experience to offer counsel and advice to keep these important ventures solid and Scriptural. “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head” (Pro 20:29).
Older saints contribute to our church life by willingly teaching the younger saints godly attitudes and behavior in everyday life. “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” (Tit 2:2-3). The writer in Titus further instructed the older women to teach the younger women about a number of practical areas related to morality, marriage, raising children, and home life. This kind of teaching, both by word and example, is not only necessary but is encouraging and reassuring when it is accepted by the younger. While older brothers and sisters have much to teach younger brothers and sisters about questions of faith, doctrine, and salvation, they also often give excellent advice in questions related to finances, vocational choices, priorities, interpersonal relationships, and other everyday issues.
Let us thank the Lord for the gray heads among us. Let us faithfully be “followers of them, even as they also are of Christ.”
~ Peach Bottom PA