R-e-s-p-e-c-t, - something-we-all-want-to-see. I know; that’s not how the lyrics go in Aretha Franklin’s most famous recording. But respect is something we all can relate to. All of us want to be respected, and rightly so. Our Lord spoke frequently regarding mutual love and respect for our neighbor.
In addition to Jesus’ teaching on loving [respecting] one another, there is another respect that scripture speaks of in several places. A respect that pays honor to the elderly.
After giving the law, God gave instructions to the Jews through Moses. After making a declarative statement, He would say, “I am the Lord.” That statement, “I am the Lord”, is a short version of the fuller declaration, “. . ., Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” Le 19:2b. When God made this declaration, in essence He was saying, “Live this holy way, because I am Holy.” Whenever we see those words, “I am the Lord”, God is saying “Be holy, for I am Holy!”
A few verses later in Le 19:32, ““You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” ESV God says showing respect to the aged is holy living! It’s an admonition, and it is declared by God because we need to hear it. Age is honorable, and the Ancient of Days requires honor be paid to the aged. The grey head is a crown of glory. God uses the word “stand” not just to cause us to behave in a specific way, but to have a heart of love & respect always toward the aged. Standing is a sign of honor and respect.
Disrespect, contempt or minimizing the value of the elderly is sin, commonly seen in some cultures, and we are not immune! We must heed God’s word regarding how we treat our elderly. In 1Timothy 5 we are all told to treat the elderly as if they were our parents. Could it be that how we treat the elderly reflects our feelings about our parents?
Our Heavenly Father requires honor & respect especially to those who cannot care for themselves, and sometimes that includes some of the elderly. Jesus’ oldest kid brother, James, writes in his letter to the scattered Jews to keep our faith pure by serving those at both ends of life’s spectrum; the orphan & the widow, the young & the aged, those who need our assistance & need us to care about them & for them.
“Children’s children are a crown to the aged,…” Pr 17:6. When I was young I always had an interest in how my grandparents lived & asked many questions. I learned much about daily life “back then” as they shared their experiences of outhouses & outdoor plumbing.
I look forward to visiting my grandkids, not just to spend time, but to take opportunity to talk, to stimulate their thinking by saying things that arouse their curiosity. Children become more interesting when they begin to learn to think for themselves and you can challenge their thinking. There is so much opportunity to influence my grandchildren, especially when I tell them what good parents God has given them. My greatest pleasure when with them is when I can “flavor” or “salt” my conversation as I bring the Lord into our talks.
The elderly need to be treated like treasures, for they provide a valuable service to us, even if only by their presence. To those whom God has honored with the common blessing of long life we ought to honor by showing love, respect and affection. God provides blessings to us with the presence of the elderly. They teach us how to prosper, avoid trouble, to serve and remind us of the temporal aspect of life. Examples they provide are invaluable. Remember when the Jews were going to stone the adulterous woman? When Jesus said whoever was sinless could throw the first stone, all the accusers walked, beginning with the older, . . . hmmm.
Aging gracefully (I hope),