Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Advice for Old Men

Many great men of the faith have written beautiful messages to young men and women over the centuries. One of my personal favorites is “Advice for Young Men” by J.C. Ryle.

I've been thinking a lot lately and it might be appropriate and timely for a young man to write advice for old men. Not that I think a young man has much to say, but there are some things the Scriptures say that many of the wise older generations have forgotten.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
(1Ti 5:1-2)

This verse makes clear that there is a time when the young can speak to the old, but as an encourager and not as a rebuke. I hope that anything I may say here will come across in that encouraging manner and extremely humble.

A dear older saint from my church went home to be with the LORD recently. I cannot say I knew the woman well, but I can say that I loved her well. She was only 77 but had been sick on and off since I came to my current fellowship. I believe I spoke with her more in a nursing home or hospital than I did at church. I must admit it was no where near as often as I wish I might had.

One extraordinary thing about her was that when she was the slightest bit well enough she made it to church. Oh how she loved the fellowship of the saints.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Heb 10:24-25)

I urge and beg of you not to take lightly the gathering of God's church. In old age sickness can be a great deterrent, but whenever possible please realize how much you are not only wanted but needed.

Another deterrent is the feeling of uselessness that may come with old age. While it may be true you can no longer serve as you once did or even as often, you now possess one of the greatest needs in the church, wisdom.

Yes, wisdom that has been hard won through trials and pains and victories is of the greatest need in the church. We need old men to council the young. Let us not be as Rehoboam and take the council of the young over that of the aged. We young men are often stubborn and foolish and need a persistent, loving and wise older generation to guide us (and when necessary bop us over the head).

We need the old men to remind the young of God's glory and His greatness.

And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
(Ezr 3:11-13)

The old men knew what the temple used to look like. They knew the glory that that LORD had received from it, but to see it now was despairing.

We need old men to remind us of what can be and has been. We need a reminder of what the house of the LORD can be like.

I don't mean simply in style or design as though we should build a larger structure, but in what the LORD has done to show His own glory and how He is victorious in generations past and faithful for generations to come.

Regretfully, many of this beloved generation have abandoned their posts when they are most needed. They have come to think they deserve a rest from their work in the fellowship of saints as though some debt has been paid. This is far from the truth. Indeed, a debt has been paid, but not by you, but by Christ on your behalf. You are still indebted and forever will be, but how great it is to have such a loving master.

You are needed now and while your rest may soon come the time is not now. There is yet work to be done for His sake. We who are young are in a more desperate need of you than ever before.

Our churches think that what we want is to hang out with one another or young, hip, pastors. NO! Perhaps it is what we desire, but never what we need. We need to know your success in life. We need to know your failures. We need to know how a faithful God has brought you through and how He has promised us the same. I beg of you declare His glory and goodness as it has been throughout the ages.

The church may no longer look like what it did when you were young. It may be more casual dress and the music may have a faster tempo, but let this not be a hindrance.

When you look around and see young generations and families coming up in the church do not be scared away, but be inspired! This is where God has called you to, not to Florida or some other warm climate. You are needed and desired here! Stay, teach, share your wisdom.

Invite young people to join you for dinner or tea or just to pray together. Make personal invitations. Develop a great desire to be hospitable.

You may be turned down or even ignored but continue to try. Remember the young are foolish and don't always know what is best for them. Persevere is good works.

You are truly loved and have much offer. Never forget that and offer it freely.

In Christ, our Hope,


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