As set out in our basis of faith, we hold to the divine inspiration and authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God—fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.
This video lists some of the scriptural passages that refer to older age, and the video hopefully enables reflection around how Churches should see the vital role of older Christians- and the value God places on older people.
The following lessons from the Scriptures are adapted from “Living out God’s Purpose in our Senior Years”, written by Louise Morse and Roger Hitchings and published by Pilgrims’ Friend Society in 2014. Click here to buy a copy of this book.
Old age is not a mistake in God’s design. He planned old age to be a season of harvest for His older people, a time of accumulated wisdom and experience from a life spent with Him. It is also a time of continuing growth. ‘They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green,’ (Psalm 92:14). But the Bible is also realistic about the challenges of older age (Psalm 90:9).
Older believers are repositories of God’s goodness over the years. They are full of accounts of His acts in their lives. Many of the psalms say these should be shared with others, to give God glory, and to encourage and build up others (Psalm 78 is an example).
Older people should be respected for their wisdom: Leviticus 19:32. In an ancient culture there was a saying that the ruler did not worry until the grey beards murmured.
John’s letter to the church shows the balance of young and old: ‘I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.’ 1 John 2:12-14.
The same model is seen in Titus 2:1-4. ‘You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.’
Many things can only be learnt by experience and experience is something that comes with years. Clearly, the young and old provide a balance in the church.
‘The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their grey hair.’ Proverbs 20:29. Old age is:
- A blessing
- A time of fullness in knowing God
- To be a period of growth
- To be marked by a particular religious and ethical witness and testimony
- A time of exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit – ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ Galatians 5:22,23
- A time for sharing God’s goodness manifested over a life time
- A time given to us by the Lord to fully prove His grace and to prepare ourselves to enter glory satisfied with all God’s goodness. Psalm 91:16
- A time for mentoring the younger generation
The Bible sets out some of the specific gifts and contributions that older people can make to the body of Christ (the Church). These include:
- Wisdom and experience gained (2 Corinthians 13:5)
- Wisdom and experiences to share (Psalm 71:8)
- God’s word proven (Psalm 37:25)
- A right perspective on God’s timing (1 Peter 3:8)
- A fuller understanding of the importance of personal spiritual growth and deep intercession, rather than “doing things” (Psalm 84: 1,2)
- An anticipation of heaven, living in the light of eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Finishing Well: A God's eye view of ageing
We were delighted that following a project with the Pastors’ Academy at the London Seminary and Revd Canon Ian Knox (a published author and evangelist) Ian has written our first Faith in Later Life book, which focuses on God’s promises and purposes for us, and in doing so enables the reader to reflect on how God speaks into older age and shapes us in later life.