How to be Fruitful in Old Age

How to be Fruitful in Old Age

This world has a lot wrong with it, including the way it discards older generations. But older people, too, can diminish their own importance in their own eyes. 

Automatic honor is due the aged. The Bible commands respect for parents (Exodus 20:12, Proverbs 1:8-9) but also for any of “the gray-headed” (Leviticus 19:32, 1 Timothy 5:1).

It shouldn’t have to be said, but every human life has intrinsic worth. God gives life and takes life (Genesis 30:22, 2 Kings 20:1-11) and humans do not share this right. Euthanasia is not an option! God causes some to suffer decrepitude for reasons we may not perceive, perhaps to help the sufferer focus on the eternal, perhaps to allow his caregivers to be reminded of the fragility of life (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:4, Ecclesiastes 7:2-3).

Older folks: you are valuable! Psalm 92:12-15 declares that righteous men shall “flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the LORD is upright…” What a thought, that during a phase of life that many people think they are dry bones, in God’s kingdom they are vibrant and productive!

How can you ensure your latter years are some of your most fruitful in the Lord?

See the Beauty in Long Years. Don’t spend too long mourning the loss of speed and stamina—the body is simply not designed to last forever. The Bible reminds us that God has a purpose for elderly people. “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

Offer Wise Counsel. Venerable age is a blessing, not only for the person who is blessed with the health to reach it, but for the people blessed to learn from him. Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.” Older people have seen a lot of things and know how to apply Biblical wisdom to life. It would be helpful for younger people to sit respectfully at the feet of the aged, listening to their stories and receiving their counsel. Proverbs 17:6 declares, “Grandchildren are the crown of old men…” but continues, “…and the glory of sons is their fathers.” The blessings flow both up the family tree and down it!

Avoid Getting Crochety and Bitter. Being angry and unapproachable (Ephesians 4:29-32) is sinful at any age. A lack of joy, love, and patience (Galatians 5:22-23) is a spiritual failure for any Christian.

Lead the Church. God chose qualified “elders” (1 Peter 5:1-5) to shepherd souls and oversee the church, “as those who will give an account” (Hebrews 13:17). With a fierce love, they lead, feed, and protect God’s flock. They are seasoned Christians who offer practical, exemplary, Biblical leadership on life and faith. Spend less of your middle years preparing for a selfish and relaxing retirement, and more preparing yourself to serve the Lord by leading (1 Timothy 3:1-8)!

Establish a Legacy. For many people who remain healthy, the later years will see the largest amount of disposable income, and the biggest jumps in the value of the nest egg. It’s nice to leave much of that as an inheritance (Proverbs 13:22, 2 Corinthians 12:14)—though not always (Proverbs 20:21, 30:7-9). In any case, give consideration to the good you might accomplish for the Lord (Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 16:1-9). Give liberally (Romans 12:8). Set up a trust fund that will continue to give after you’ve gone, whether it simply deposits to the church directly, or through a trustee, supports foreign evangelistic works or activities and scholarships for young Christians.                                            

--John Guzzetta