Age is intended to bring about a certain level of dignity and respect. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more neglected you become in our culture.
Scripture has a different take on how we should treat our elders.
You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.Leviticus 19:32
Respecting one’s elders is linked to our response to God.
“You shall stand up before the gray head…”
When an older person walks into a room, people should stand to show respect. He or she should never feel disregarded. Even more in cases where mobility is a challenge, those younger should show respect.
“Honor the face of an old man…”
Honor in the Bible is meant to give weight toward something. To show respect. To honor the face of an older man means that you continue to ascribe value and worth and interpret that person as able to deliver sound and meaningful counsel.
“You shall fear your God…”
How could honoring an older person actually show reverence to God?
- It shows that you value every life on which God’s image is stamped.
- It acknowledges that you understand this life to be fleeting.
- It displays humility that you still have something to learn from others.
- It shows respect that you honor those who have survived decades longer than you.
- It confronts insecurity in you that seeks to point out “weaknesses” in others to make you feel better.
- It shows the value of a soul’s worth as more significant than external, temporal trappings.
You may not realize it, but regardless of your age, you still have a lot to learn from others around you. I love that my daughter knows the names and stories of people ten times her age in our church. I benefit greatly from a small group that has all ages in it and does not segregate people toward age brackets. I am thankful my boys know to open the doors, carry a plate of food, or speak to an elder with respect.
I want to say that we all need to respect our elders because one day we will get to that age, but that isn’t promised. Those people older than you made it due to God’s favor and personal wisdom. We aren’t guaranteed either.
Instead of disregarding, disenfranchising, or demeaning older people around you today, have you ever thought about how you could honor God by honoring them? What could you learn from them? How could you encourage them?
God commands it, which means it is for His glory and our good. Be different in this department today.