O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. 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. Psalm 71:17-18
There is something quite endearing about guidance and direction given from a gentle and aged soul. With time comes a well-tempered perspective, and if that perspective is rooted in timeless truth, there could be no greater gift to impart. Time helps to crystallize and clarify certain things, and age can help most people sift through the treasures of life to find those gems that are the most valuable. However, there is no direct scientific correlation between grey follicles and biblical wisdom. Young men can have the wisdom of a sage, and some old men are complete fools. So what is the distinction?
The psalmist makes it quite plain in Psalm 71 as he expresses his life story with the vocabulary of one who has been constantly dependent on God. With a basis of faith, he sought to not only follow after God but to guide and point others into the same pursuit. In the last chapter of his life, he labored to shape those around him into becoming what God created them for – worshippers of God. There was no one exempted from this conversation, rather he told of God’s character and power to “everyone that is to come.”
This is what makes an aged person wise. This is what brings value and purpose in the years that so many waste and squander. Instead of retreating into the shadows, this wise old saint spent himself proclaiming the truths that mattered the most to him. There was nothing more important than engaging younger folks in conversation. He did not retreat to the back side of an island where no one could find him as he pined away his last years, instead, he walked amongst those who would outlive him and pointed them to the One who would outlive them all.
As Paul instructed Titus about the way the churches of Crete could be helped, he began his instructions for the church members by speaking to those who were the most aged. Paul wanted Titus to encourage them to not squander their last years. Rather in full faith, they could study and learn and teach. They would need patience to engage with those who had not yet had the fires of life temper their zeal. They would need to love those who in their youthful vigor would make mistakes upon mistakes. They would have to live everyday blameless so that their testimony did not corrupt the truth they proclaimed.
Above all things, these older saints must become studiers and teachers of the truth of God’s word. They could not shirk this responsibility for a litany of lesser things. As they had learned, they must teach. What they had not yet learned, they must study, so that they could teach. Church in the first century did not isolate the grey heads from the young, rather, in the multi-generational spirit of the gospel, the first century church blended all ages. Old could instruct the young. Young could humbly receive biblical instruction. And we are no different. May the lie of retirement on the beach secluded somewhere far away never allure our saints from fulfilling the clear call to community given here in Titus 2.
Reflect: Why did Paul say that the older saints should be with the younger saints?