GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY
A. In speaking about “Growing Old Gracefully” I feel much like N. B. Hardeman who when asked to speak on a similar topic
1. He stated, “I am too young to speak as one should on this subject.”
2. Even though he was in his eighties or nineties at the time!
B. Most young people do not think about “growing old,” which is understandable…
1. For they have yet to experience the reality of “growing old” in the sense of declining in one’s physical strength and mental capabilities
2. For them getting older has always meant getting better as they draw closer to the peak of their physical maturity
C. If they talk about “growing old” it is often with disdain for the way many people spend their golden years…
1. Discontented with life
2. Set in their ways
3. Bitter towards many people
4. There is often truth in what the young say about the old: “Some old women and men grow bitter with age. The more their teeth drop out the more biting they get.”
D. This has prompted many young people to say: “I will never be like that when I get old!”
1. But growing old gracefully does not happen by accident
2. Unless one understands and applies certain principles while young, the chances are great that he or she will become like the elderly they are quick to despise
3. Think carefully about this statement: “Most men spend the first half of their lives making the second half miserable.”
E. How are you spending the first half of your life; or, how will you spend the last half of your life?
1. Will you grow old gracefully?
2. Before we consider certain principles conducive to graceful aging, we need to consider…
A. THE POSSIBILITY OF GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY
1. Illustrated by biblical examples…
a. Moses, at the age of 120
1) Deuteronomy 34:7
2) Throughout Deuteronomy his speech was filled with vigor
b. Joshua, as he addressed the elders of Israel (note his conviction) – Joshua 24:15
c. Barzillai, the Gileadite, showed gracious hospitality at age eighty (2 Sam. 19:31-38)
d. Dorcas, who helped the poor and widows (Acts 9:36-39)
e. The graceful manner in which Paul faced death – 2 Timothy 4:6-8
f. Peter aged gracefully…
1) Becoming an elder (1 Pet. 5:1-2)
2) Remaining diligent as death approached – 2 Peter 1:13-15
3) Forgiving toward those who rightly rebuked him (2 Pet. 3:15; cf. Gal. 2:11)
2. Illustrated by personal examples…
a. One does not need to go to the Bible to find the only examples of people growing old gracefully
b. I am sure that we have all known such people
c. I have been blessed to know a number of such people in my life
d. Yes, growing old gracefully is possible!
e. When it occurs, it is beautiful to behold: “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
3. Unfortunately, too often wrinkles are not joined with grace.
a. How can we who are young live today so as to grow old gracefully, and not pathetically?
b. How can those who are old be graceful in their old age?
b. There are several principles that when applied can ensure that growing old will be a graceful experience…
B. THE PRINCIPLES OF GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY
1. Galatians 6:7-8
a. This is true in all areas of life
1) For example, in the physical realm
a) Sow corn, you reap corn
b) Take good care of your body, and you enjoy good health
c) Disregard healthy habits, and the body will suffer for it
2) This is especially so in the spiritual realm
a) Job 4:8
b) Much of the bitterness, discontent, and anger which characterizes many older people is the result of “sowing to the flesh”
— Note the works of the flesh (the result of sowing to the flesh) – Galatians 5:19-21
— Contrast the fruit of those who sow to the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23
c) How much better to do as Hosea says… Hosea 10:12
b. Yet the young often say: “I want to sow my wild oats while I am still young”
1) Then what? Hope for a crop failure? (Don’t count on it)
2) They fail to realize the harvest of trouble they will reap later in life
a) Abuse their body and their health will be ruined
b) Engage in sexual immorality…they will ruin their reputation, and make it difficult to have a normal family life and the joy it ought to bring
3) Consider the sad irony of it all…
a) Most young people do not realize that the popular lifestyle of “doing your own thing” and “sowing your wild oats” is the very thing that produces the pathetic mental and physical condition found in many older people!
b) So while they condemn the old for the way they wasted their lives and the way they turned out, they are headed down the same path of corruption!
c. Samuel Johnson said, “He that would pass the latter part of life with honor and decency must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day be old…”
2. Matthew 4:4
a. Let’s focus our attention on two words:
1) Bread – involves more than just dough; includes all things of a material nature
2) Live – involves more than simple existence; includes living life in its fullest sense, i.e., an abundant life
3) We must realize one does not find the good life in seeking and acquiring material things… Luke 12:15
b. If we don’t learn this while young, and remember it when we are old, we will waste much of our life pursuing the wrong things, and hate ourselves for it when we face death’s door
1) Solomon came to this realization – Ecclesiastes 2:17-23
2) Rosseau, the French philosopher, saw the ungraceful way many old people live out their later years as the result of learning this truth too late: “Old men grasp more at life than babies, and leave it with a much worse grace than young people. It is because all their labors having been for this life, they perceive at last their trouble lost.”
c. There is more to life than material things; to grow old gracefully we must realize this and find that which makes life full and abundant!
1) Fortunately, Jesus came to help us – John 10:10
2) He is the true and living Way! – John 14:6
3) And it is the Word of God that shows us the way to Christ – John 5:39
a) This illustrates the truth of Matthew 4:4
b) The Word of God reveals Christ to us, who in turn shows us how to really life, for He is the Life!
d. What a shame to go through life, only to find at last our labors were of no lasting value… Luke 9:25; 12:15-21
3. Wisdom is important to growing old gracefully
a. Wisdom is insight, understanding, which enables one to make the best use of his or her talents and circumstances, avoiding the mistakes and pitfalls of life
b. The value of wisdom is:
1) Beautifully proclaimed in Proverbs 3:13-18
2) Illustrated in Ephesians 5:15-16
a) The days are evil (the time is short) – cf. James 4:13-14
b) Wisdom helps one to utilize to the fullest what little time we have, instead of wasting our precious time
c. Wisdom can be acquired in two ways:
1) Personal experience
a) Which can be very wasteful and time-consuming
b) You can spend much of your life in trial and error, repeating the same mistakes made by others
c) While you may finally gain wisdom…
— You have not only wasted much time in the trials
— You have to bear the consequence of your errors (you reap what you sow)
2) God and His Word… Proverbs 2:6
a) What better source, than from He who by wisdom created the universe… Proverbs 3:19-20
b) With such wisdom, especially at an early age…
— Our journey through life will more pleasant and graceful… Proverbs 3:21-26
— We can get a head start and soon pass those who learn only through trial and error… Psalm 119:97-100
4. With the wisdom found in God’s Word, it is possible to grow old gracefully, and be graceful in old age. For in it we learn:
a. How to avoid the needless suffering experienced by those reaping the results of learning by trial and error
b. The true purpose of life is not found in the material things of life, but in that which Jesus Christ has to offer!
5. To help us apply these principles, here are some practical steps based upon Paul’s exhortations to the young preacher Timothy…
C. THE PRACTICE OF GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY
1. Be an example to others
a. 1 Timothy 4:12
b. There is no way you can avoid being an example to others
1) You will be either be a good example
2) Or you will be an example of what not to be
c. Determine to be an example of those who believe, and this will set you on the right track of one who grow old gracefully!
2. Commit yourself to the word of God
a. 1 Timothy 4:13
b. Commit yourself to studying and teaching the Word of God to others
c. This will assure that you have an open line to God’s wisdom
d. So study the Bible daily, and share what you learn with others!
3. Cultivate your talents
a. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you…” (1 Ti 4:14)
b. The degree to which you reap will be based upon the ability with which you can sow
c. If you want to reap a large harvest of good in this life, develop your talents!
4. Apply diligence to your efforts
a. 1 Timothy 4:15-16
b. Growing old gracefully, like many good things, does not happen by accident
c. It takes concentrated effort, so be diligent and persevere!
A. “To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent–that is to triumph over old age.” – Thomas Bailey Aldrich
B. Is it possible to triumph over old age, to grow old gracefully? Yes, for I have seen it happen time and again!
C. But those of us who are young must realize the experience is reserved for those who…
1. Follow the wisdom of God
2. Understand the abundant life is not found in worldly things
3. Sow in such a way as to bear fruit and reap a harvest leading to eternal life
D. Such a person will be like those described in… Psalm 92:12-15
1. Don’t you wish to be like that? By the grace of God you can!
2. In Christ Jesus you can become a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), made possible by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Tim. 3:5).
3. The sooner you begin this new life, the less “baggage” of the old life you will have to contend with, and the more you can do for the Lord…
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