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Elderly honor

At age 43, I’m old, in the eyes of my grade school kids. But when I preach at Shirkey Leisure Acres on a Sunday afternoon, I’m quite young, in the eyes of the elderly. And it is to these elderly that we owe honor. Leviticus 19:32 says, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.” When elderly people come near, we should stand and give attention to them. And we should listen to their wisdom. This honors them and God.
That’s what Elihu did. In the book of Job, three old men came to convince old Job that he sinned to bring on his suffering. After 30 chapters of debate between the aged, it was younger Elihu’s turn: “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’” (Job 32: 4-7) Even though Elihu disagreed with his elders, he did so respectfully, simply because their greater years warranted it.
However, the elderly are to act honorably as well as receive honor. Age doesn’t automatically make one wise or good. The aged must work to be wise and good – like Zechariah and Elizabeth: “There was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.” (Luke 1: 5-7) This honorable elderly couple, blameless and yet barren, was blessed by the birth of a son – John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus the Messiah.
On the day Jesus was dedicated at the temple, another honorable old lady entered history: “There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; [likely over 100]. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2: 36-38) Anna was always at church, all week long. Everyone knew Anna and her honorable ways, so they were quick to hear her tell of the Messiah. In this way, she was both honorable and honored, and she also shared honor, as the elderly should.
Paul wrote to a young preacher named Titus to show him how to instruct his congregation. Paul said, “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, [etc.]. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers, [etc.]. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, [etc.].” (Titus 2: 2-5) The older teach the younger. The honored elderly should share the honor by teaching those younger than themselves how to be honorable.
So rise for those older than yourself, live honorably, and show others how to do the same. This honors God.

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