Redeeming Your Age
It’s beautiful how Scripture gives a wise perspective on every stage of our life.
When we look at our infants and children, God speaks about how his covenant promises are for them (Acts 2:39), about the sanctified opportunities of new life (Ecc 11:9-10), and about the parents’ essential job of training them to know him (Ps 78:4).
When we look at teenagers and young adults, we hear God speaking about the need to flee the evil desires of youth (2 Tim 2:22), and the calling for them to grow and mature in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
When we look at couples who are just married, or who are receiving and raising children, we hear God speaking about the importance of building our homes solidly on the wisdom of his Word (Ps 127:1).
God seeks our whole-hearted service at every stage of life, because Christ redeemed us wholly for him. Second century theologian Irenaeus once wrote about how Christ redeemed our human condition in every aspect and at every age:
He did not reject human nature or exalt himself above it…
Becoming an infant among infants, he sanctified infants;
becoming a child among children, he sanctified those having this age…;
becoming a young adult among young adults, he was an example for young adults and sanctified them to the Lord…
Lastly, he even came to death so that he might be ‘the Firstborn from the dead,’ himself ‘holding primacy in all things’ (Col 1:18), the Author of life, prior to all and going before all.
So even as our years advance, and children leave the home, and our bodies begin to get tired, and our careers wind down, God opens our eyes through the Scriptures to his good perspective.
Now, I have heard it claimed many times that the Bible never advocates the idea of “retirement.” I’ve probably said it myself more than once!
But recently I came across Numbers 8:24-26, which says that the Levites were expected to cease performing their service at the tabernacle at the age of fifty, after which they “shall work no more.” So there was retirement in the Bible—at least for the clergy!—and Old Testament Israel even had a lower retirement age than in modern Western countries like our own.
Of course, we shouldn’t expect Scripture to validate precisely each and every practice that we have adopted in our modern age. When Scripture is silent on a particular matter, it is far more responsible to consider the general principles which the Holy Spirit lays out for governing our life, right from infancy to old age.
And with regard to getting older, God speaks about the aged among us ought to teach wisdom, and to model faithfulness, and to recount the great works of the Lord (Titus 2:2-5). Scripture teaches us to reject the worldly notion that the elderly have somehow lost their purpose on earth and that they’re simply getting in the way of the young and vibrant (Ps 71:18). Rather, we ought to look on the blessing of the aged with proper gratitude and understanding.
As each of us gets older, day by day, we pray that our thinking and our doing may be shaped by the wisdom of God’s unchanging Word.