SPECIAL TOPIC: HUMAN AGING
A. A quote from a Christian Life Commission magazine on "A Future for the Family," 1973, p. 16, by L. D. Johnson, entitled "Hebrew-Christian Geriatrics":
"Our attitude toward the aging, reflected in our behavior as opposed to our sentimental talk, suggests that we recommend the Bible more ardently than obey it. Probably no society among civilized people demonstrates less concern for the aged than ours. We are youth worshipers. We cater to the young, pamper and overprotect them, indulge them, envy them, and make fools of ourselves trying to imitate them. Our highest value is youth, our lowest age.
Yet the absurdity of such a turned-upside-down value system ought to be obvious. One out of six of us in the western world is over sixty, and the proportion is rising."
B. Cultures have differed greatly in how they have treated their aged:
1. Oriental cultures have shown great respect and care for their aged.
2. American Indian culture abandoned their aged to die.
C. There are some biblical guidelines to help us in this area.
II. Biblical Material
A. Old Testament
1. Age is a divine blessing for a covenant walk.
a. Proverbs 16:31
b. Genesis 15:15
c. Exodus 20:12; Duet. 6:2; 22:6-7; 25:15
d. Job 5:17-26 (especially v. 26)
e. Psalm 91:14-16
f. Psalm 92:1-15 (especially vv. 14-15)
2. Even blessed age has its unique problems
a. graphic description of old age is found in Eccl. 12:1-5
b. Isaac had poor eyesight, Gen. 27:1
c. Jacob had poor eyesight, Gen. 48:10
d. Eli had poor eyesight, 1 Sam. 3:2
e. Barzillai had poor hearing and taste, 2 Sam. 19:31-35
f. David had poor circulation, 1 Kings 1:1-4
g. Ahijah had poor eyesight, 1 Kings 14:1
3. God never leaves us, even in old age.
a. Psalm 37:23-26
b. Psalm 71:9,18
c. Psalm 73:24
4. Age, since it is a sign of God's blessing, is to be respected.
a. Leviticus 19:32
b. Ruth 4:15
c. Proverbs 23:22
d. Lack of respect is and will be judged.
(1) Deuteronomy 28:50
(2) 1 Samuel 2:31-32
(3) Isaiah 3:5
(4) Lamentations 4:16; 5:12
e. Wisdom of Solomon, 2:10
f. Wisdom of Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 8:6
5. Blessed age brings wisdom and discernment
a. 1 Kings 12:8
b. Job 12:12,20
c. Job 15:10
d. (Ecclesiasticus 25:6)
e. There are exceptions
(1) Job 32:6ff
(2) Ecclesiastes 4:13
6. What is considered old age?
a. Leviticus 27:1-8, 60 years
b. Psalm 90:10, normal - 70, good - 80
c. Isaiah 65:20, 100 years
d. Ecclesiasticus 18:9 - 100 years
B. New Testament - 1 Timothy
1. the widows role, 5:3ff (i.e., widows over 60 hired by the church)
2. attitude toward older persons, 3:1-2
3. believers are responsible for their families, 3:8
III. Some Practical Suggestions
A. Teach your children to respect older people (you will need this one day yourself!).
B. Make it a family project to contact aged members of your family. If possible, in person, if not, call or write to older relatives, especially at holiday times.
C. Take a trip to an aged neighbor or nursing home. Encourage your church to adopt a home and visit it regularly.
D. Provide time for our younger children to be with grandparents, either natural or "adopted."
E. Encourage our churches to develop Senior Adult Ministries. Assign a staff member to coordinate.
F. Personally begin now to plan and prepare for retirement.
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