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Can the Old and Young Co-exist?

It is not always easy for the elderly and the young people to live harmoniously together. Often, both sides seem unable to get along due to a disconnect. They may complain of having different “wave-lengths,” and being unable to understand each other’s experiences. The elderly may complain that the young are reckless, immature, and rebellious. The young may complain that the elderly are slow, out-dated and stubborn in their ways.

Despite the apparent disconnect, both the old and young have a valuable place in God’s family. Every member of the family, both old and young, are vital components of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:20-22). If the body of Christ is to function harmoniously, the old and young must learn to co-exist. Instead of perceiving this relationship to be a troublesome one, the Bible teaches that this can actually be a mutually beneficial relationship!

Elderly, take advantage!

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days (Job 12:12)

The advantage of the elderly is the experience that they have accumulated over the years. There is an old saying, “Experience is the best teacher.” With experience comes wisdom. Elsewhere, the proverb writer wrote, “the beauty of old men is the gray head” (Proverbs 20:29). The gray head is a beauty because it is a symbol of wisdom. Hence, the elderly tend to be a good source of wisdom and sound advice! It is no wonder that the bishops of the church cannot be novices, but they must be “elders” (1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Given that the elderly are supposed to be wiser with experience, the Bible exhorts the older Christians to teach the younger. There is much for young Christians to learn in their Christian walk with God. Hence, older women are exhorted to teach the younger women how to conduct themselves in a manner that is becoming of godly Christian women (Titus 2:3-5). Matured Christians must teach faithful young Christians God’s word, so that they would be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). Most importantly, parents must teach and train up their children to serve God (Ephesians 6:4).

Elderly, take heed!

Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment (Job 32:9)

Although it is said that experience is the best teacher, there is an updated saying: “Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.” Unfortunately, we can observe that not all elderly people are wise. It is one thing to gain years of experience; it is another to learn the right lessons from those experiences. Job’s three friends are a classic example of elderly men who thought themselves wise, but were really foolish. They made numerous false accusations against Job, which prompted the young man Eilhu to chide them, that “Great men are not always wise” (Job 32:9).

Hence, the elderly must not fall into the trap of thinking that they know everything. Such an attitude would prevent them from further self-improvement. Also, conflict happens when everyone thinks his own way is right! Indeed, the Scriptures do not only contain advice for the young, but also for the elderly (Titus 2:1-6). This should be an indication to us that the elderly have their own pitfalls, and there are things for them to take heed as well. Hence, they must continually seek God’s word and grow thereby (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus taught that in order to be great in the kingdom, we must be “as the younger” (Luke 22:26). Instead of lifting ourselves with pride due to our age, we need to have the attitude of the young, who are eager to learn and submit.

But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve (Luke 22:26)

Elderly, take action!

Having discussed the advantages and the pitfalls of the elderly, here are some final advice for them:

  • Do not waste your experience; Instead, share it!

  • Do not languish with age; Instead, stay active!

  • Do not be stagnant; Instead, keep growing!

  • Do not insist your ways; Instead, keep an open mind!

Young, take advantage!

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head (Proverbs 20:29)

If the advantage of the elderly is their wisdom, then the advantage of youth is their strength. Physically and mentally, youth are sharp, and are therefore capable of accomplishing many tasks that the elderly may struggle with. This is particularly obvious when we observe the youth being quick to keep up with the constant advancement of technology, whereas the elderly often struggle with it. Young people, treasure the days of your youth while you still have it!

Given that the young are strong, God exhorts us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The best time to serve God is while we are young! There will come a time when we are no longer young, and we will not have the energy to serve God anymore. There will come a time when we realize we need to serve God, but it is too late (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Hence, we ought to use our youthful strength profitably by serving God while we can!

Young, take heed!

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22)

While the young are blessed with strength, often this strength is not used profitably. Samson was blessed with divine strength, but unfortunately, his focus was often on fulfilling his selfish desires instead of serving God. While the young are supposed to obey their parents, many instead spurn the advice of the elderly in order to fulfil their own selfish desires – to their own detriment! (Ephesians 6:1-3). While the young ought to learn to conduct themselves well, many instead live shamelessly and rebelliously (Proverbs 30:11-14).

Hence, the young must not fall into the same trap as the elderly i.e. thinking they know everything! Instead, the younger is to submit to the elder (1 Peter 5:5). Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). The young men ought to be sober-minded (Titus 2:6). Young people ought to conduct themselves honorably, so as not to give others a reason to despise them (2 Timothy 4:12). Young people ought to start serving God from young (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Young, take action!

Having discussed the advantages and the pitfalls of the young, here are some final advice for them:

  • You have learnt some things, but there is still a long way to go; Keep learning and growing!

  • You have some experience, but others have more; Listen to the wisdom of the elderly!

  • You are still strong, but you are growing older, not younger; Serve God while you can!

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers (Prroverbs 17:6)

The crown of the elderly is the young. The glory of the young is the elderly. At the end of the day, both old and young both need each other! As members of God’s family, let us continue to support each other, and to learn from each other. This is how the old and young and co-exist, and this is how we can reap the rewards of a mutually beneficial relationship.


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