With age comes understanding. No other education can give the wisdom and common sense that come from years of experience. That is why it is wise to seek the guidance of older people and foolish to scoff at it.
When Samuel the prophet was old, he made his sons judges in Israel. But they were not like their father. They were crooked. The elders of the people came to Samuel and insisted on new leadership. They didn’t accuse Samuel of sin. He was a good man and they knew it. But they did bluntly tell him, “You are old” (I Sam. 8:5). They wanted a king instead of a judge. Samuel warned them that this would be a big mistake, but they wouldn’t listen. They ignored what this godly old man said.
When Solomon died, Rehoboam his son became king. He asked the old men who served under his father how to answer the people who wanted relief from the hard labor his father had put upon them. They told him to be a servant to the people and speak good words to them (I Kings 12:7). Rehoboam made a tragic but common mistake: “he forsook the counsel of the old men” (I Kings 12:8). He listened instead to the advice of young men who had grown up with him and spoke harshly to the people. The nation divided as a result. The rashness of youthful thinking kept him from seeing the bigger picture and looking ahead.
We are to respect age in the church and regard its counsel. The younger are to submit to the older (I Pet. 5:5). A younger man is not to rebuke an elder but is to intreat him as a father (I Tim. 5:1). Older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Bishops are to be men of experience. They must have a good reputation in and outside the church. They must demonstrate their leadership in the home by having their children in subjection and they must have believing children. They must be mature Christians, not newcomers to the faith (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These qualities take years to develop.
One of the marks of a corrupt society is young people who scoff at age and try to assume leadership (Isa. 3:1-5). This is also a sure sign of trouble in the church. An old example is found in the writings of Clement of Rome who is thought to have lived from 30-100 A.D. After the apostles died the church at Corinth was having trouble. A young, disrespectful group in the congregation had led a rebellion against the elders. Their purpose was not to correct wrong or to restore the true doctrine. It was to have control. How many times has this happened in churches today? Whenever this spirit prevails in the home, the church, or the nation, there is bound to be turmoil.
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