What does growing old mean? If you asked a five-year-old and a seventy-five-year-old, you would get very different answers. Does this mean that the experience gained in those seventy years brings us a different perspective on this life and growing old?
Prov 20:29, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” Is God telling us that growing old can bring a form of beauty not yet earned during youth? 2 Cor 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Is God saying the outer beauty of youth can transform into the inner beauty that continues to improve as we age? How? Rom 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Does God not call us to renew our mind by reading the Bible? What will happen if we ignore this and do not work on improving our inward being? Our outward beauty will wane no matter how hard we fight to save it, and one day, we will all return to dust, Eccl 3:7, “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” How futile are our efforts to stop time, what has been the cost, how much have we wasted, and what do we gain from it?
Jam 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” This life is short, and our next breath could be our last. So, what are we doing with the time we have? Are we using this time to acquire the inner beauty God loves? Will this inner beauty not shine His light into a dying world, so that lost souls can find their way to Him? Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Is anything more important in this life? Of course, God does not expect us to use all of our time acquiring this inner beauty, Jn 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” God wants us to have an abundant life, so He tells us there is a time and a place for everything, Eccl 3:1, 4, 12-13, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” He just wants to make sure we are including some time each day for improving our inner beauty.
Ps 71:18, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” Does showing our strength mean we share the wisdom we have acquired over the years? Jesus told us, Matt 4:4, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Does God’s Word provide us with the wisdom we need to share with those who are willing to hear it? Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Will we have acquired the wisdom necessary to feed all of those who are willing to sup with us? Or, will we waste this life and have nothing spiritual to feed them? Developing our inner beauty means we will have enough wisdom to feed all who open the door to us.
Ps 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” How can we apply our hearts unto wisdom? Is numbering our days an important element? Does numbering our days mean we are not to waste all of them on pleasure only, to the exclusion of gaining wisdom? Prov 4:26-27, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” When we live long enough to acquire gray hair, we will have experienced the long-term results of the choices we have made and those we have witnessed others making. Our honest evaluation of those experiences will confirm the wisdom God has offered to all in His Word. It is His Word, validated by personal experience, which converts the soul, Ps 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Could this wisdom, gained from witnessing the results of our actions, not benefit others? Would they not then be able to avoid some of the painful mistakes we have made? Do we not listen more willingly to those who have suffered the same things we have suffered? Do we not value the wisdom gained from their personal experience? Is this why many of us place such a great value on God’s Word, once we see the long-term results of following it?
Do any of us ever wonder if there is more to this life than enjoying every pleasure it has to offer, Eccl 6:12, “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?” Solomon, a man who had everything, tells us he experienced all this life has to offer, power, wealth, knowledge, and pleasures without limits. But, he summed up the value of it all, Eccl 12:7-8, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.” Solomon’s immense wealth, which included his annual gold tribute of $500 billion in today’s dollars, led him to exclaim that putting things in this life ahead of God and His Word is vanity. He tells us we need to put everything into its proper place in our lives, Eccl 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Solomon was about 75 years old when he died, but he left us the wisdom he gained from an enormous amount of personal experience during those 75 years.
God has given each of us our allotted time on earth so that we might learn of His calling and do something. He knows we are not as smart as we think we are and need many years to fully understand His way. How do we begin to understand His way? Prov 3:6, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” When we acknowledge Him in all we do, He will direct our paths. So, acknowledging Him is a very important part of the process, Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Seeking His righteousness leads us to His wisdom.
If we are lucky enough to acquire gray hair, it might be because we have not yet completed the work God has called us to do. What has God called us to do? Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” If God has an expected end planned for each of us, why aren’t we looking for it? We need to do something today, for we never know which day will be our last. Reading the Bible is the best place to start on our journey of seeking His righteousness, as we grow old.
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