“Youth is the glory of nature, and the glory of young men is their strength. Old age is the majestic beauty of nature, and the gray hair is the majestic splendor that nature has given to old age.” (Jermin)
Second only to the worship wars that have at times plagued the church, are those battles fought between the generations. Sadly, all my life in the church—as a young boy, through my teen years, my early adulthood, and now pushing 50 and serving as a pastor—it is remarkable how many conflicts fell along generational lines. And regardless of the topic, how it usually felt was that each side was arguing they knew best for the church, which really meant their group was best for the church.
Once again, God, in the Bible, has a way of confronting us,
The glory of the young is their strength;
the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.
(Proverbs 20:29, New Living Translation)
Simply put, both young and old are needed in the church. Rather than despising or envying the other because of their place and strengths, they should appreciate the unique advantages that each brings to the family of God, not to mention the culture at large. What if the church were the place giving an example to the watching world of what it looks like for each and every generation to be prized and valued for the unique contributions they bring?
Here’s an example of an old dead guy, Matthew Henry (1662-1714), and how he described the young and old:
Let not old people despise the young, for they are strong and fit for action, able to go through business and break through difficulties, which the aged and weak cannot grapple with. The glory of young men is their strength, provided they use it well (in the service of God and their country, not of their lusts), and that they be not proud of it nor trust to it.
Let not young people despise the old, for they are grave, and fit for counsel, and, though they have not the strength that young men have, yet they have more wisdom and experience. Juniores ad labores, seniores ad honores—Labour is for the young, honour for the aged. God has put honour upon the old man; for his gray head is his beauty.
Dear friends—the church, our communities, and the world need them both. The “strength of youth for energy, and the maturity of the old for wisdom.” (C. Bridges)
Help us see with new eyes. Some of us need to repent of chronological snobbery and stop thinking that what is youthful and new is always best. Some of us need to repent of thinking that everyone a few decades below us is a whippersnapper with nothing to offer, being so wet behind the ears. We were all young once, and God willing, we will all one day be older. And Father, you have made us all, and for each other. It takes each one to make a family. So, help us to see we are of one Master, one faith, and one baptism; and that seeing, we might stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the good news of your kingdom (Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27).
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
P.S. If you’d like to study some of the wisdom literature further, I highly recommend the Wisdom Series from The Bible Project, and their resources on the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
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