yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ
— Philemon 9

“…Paul, the aged” – that’s an interesting way for him to refer to himself. Most of us today get a little prickly at the thought of being “aged” (or probably even more so if others think of us in that way). Our culture doesn’t put much value on its older members – they are seen as behind the times, out of touch, slow, a burden, etc. But Paul labeled himself “the aged” – he wasn’t ashamed, in fact it was supposed to imply something very positive.

The Biblical view of growing old and being elderly is very positive. “Gray hair is a crown of glory” (Pr 16:31 ESV). In the Lord, they “still bear fruit in old age” (Ps 92:14). They are due honor and respect (Le 19:32) and are not to be despised (Pr 23:22).
God’s value

We need to see older people and our older selves through the eyes of God. He values what older people do, even if there are aspects of it that show the aging process. Older people can still do things – they can still “bear fruit” for God (Ps 92:14).

God’s people have always been “maturity led.” It’s not majority rule, or cultural trends, or just what certain people want. God’s people have always shown respect to those who have demonstrated themselves to be spiritual mature among them. Older men have a place in this (Ti 2:2). Older women have a place in this (Ti 2:3). A goal for a church should be to have elders who lead and serve and help. God values these people and we should too!

More than just living long

Honor doesn’t come to a person simply because they have somehow managed to live a long time. “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Pr 16:31). Service, faithfulness, wisdom, and love into and through old age is what is honorable. We need to resist becoming idle, unfaithful, crotchety, and pessimistic in our old age. It has been said that old age isn’t for sissies – it can be tough, but it is the tough times that give us the best opportunities to show our faith, hope, and love. Even if you’re old, it’s not too late to show that God is the most important thing in your life!

Live now to become the aged

Wisdom, knowledge, experience, respect, ability to serve – all these are developed over time. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (He 5:14). If you someday want to be where older, respected people you know are today you need to start now. Hebrews says you get there by exercising your senses by using them. That means now, before you’re mature and old, study, understand, and apply God’s word. As younger people we don’t avoid growing old, we work toward it! What will you be when you are old? What you do right now will have everything to do with it!