THEY SHALL STILL BEAR FRUIT IN OLD AGE
A. A goal for many people in life is a happy retirement…
1. They spend years saving and planning for the time in which they retire
2. They look forward to the free time to do what interests them
B. But is the concept of retirement applicable to the kingdom of God?
1. We may rightly retire from secular jobs, but what about our service in the church?
2. Granted, physical infirmities may sometimes be a hindrance, but is such a valid reason for “retiring” from the work of the church?
C. In Psalms 92:12-15, we find a description of the righteous…
1. In which they are described as palm trees and cedar trees
2. Flourishing in the house and courts of God — Note vs. 14… “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and green”
D. This passage certainly suggests that there is a place of service for the elderly in work of God.
1. They are able to “bear fruit” and remain “full of sap and green” [fresh and flourishing; NKJ], despite their old age.
2. That God can and does use the elderly should be rather apparent, especially when we take a few moments to consider…
A. GOD’S USE OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE
1. Moses and Aaron…
a. They were chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage
b. At the ages of 80 and 83 – cf. Exodus 7:7
c. They were chosen to serve even when they were already past the normal life span – cf. Psalm 90:10 (written by Moses)
2. Joshua and Caleb…
a. Joshua was given the charge of leading the conquest of Canaan, during the last thirty years of his life (he lived until he was 110, Josh 24:29)
b. Caleb was also very much involved in the conquest while in his eighties – cf. Joshua 14:6-11
a. He served God from the days of his youth, in “the first year of king Cyrus” he would have been over 70 years! – cf. Daniel 1:21
b. He was well over eighty when he:
1) Served as one of three governors over the kingdom of Babylon – Daniel 6:1-3
2) Thrown into the lions’ den – Daniel 6:4-27
3) Prospered in the reigns of Darius and Cyrus the Persian – Daniel 6:28
3) Received a series of visions – Daniel 8-12
4. Zacharias and Elizabeth…
a. These were the parents of John the Baptist
b. They were “both well advanced in years” – Luke 1:7
c. Yet he was serving in the temple, and she gave birth to John!
5. Simeon and Anna…
a. Two elderly people who bore witness to the Christ child when presented to the temple to be circumcised – Luke 2:25-38
b. Anna was at least 84, and had been serving God “with fastings and prayers night and day”
6. Paul, the Aged…
a. As he refers to himself in Philemon 9
b. Yet we know at this time in his life, he was:
1) Busy writing letters (Eph, Col, Phil, Phile), even while in prison
2) Traveling, visiting, encouraging churches, when he was released from prison
7. There are many other examples of how God used those in their “golden years” to serve Him.
a. These we have considered certainly illustrate how the elderly can “still bear fruit in old age”.
b. But what about today? Well consider…
B. GOD’S USE OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH TODAY
1. There Is Always A Need For “Elders”…
a. Did God not design the local church to be overseen by elders?
1) Acts 14:23
2) Titus 1:5-9
a) Men who were older, capable of teaching and leading the flock?
b) Men who were to serve as overseers and examples of God’s flock? – 1 Peter 5:1-4
b. Yet many male members seem to retire from active service in the church about the same time they retire from secular work!
1) Around age 65, which is rather young compared to the examples we saw!
2) Just when they might be useful to the Lord, they are retiring!
3) If unqualified to serve, why not spend a few years growing and developing the necessary qualifications (if possible), and then serve?
4) Many young men who want to preach prepare themselves in just a couple of years, why can’t older men do the same?
2. There Is Always A Need For Older Women…
a. Who will do what Paul commanded in… Titus 2:3-5
b. To be “teachers of that which is good”, especially to teach the younger women how to love their husbands, love their children, be good wives and homemakers
c. Sadly, many women stop teaching when they reach the age they are commanded to teach!
1) Don’t feel qualified to teach? Then prepare yourself!
2) Commit yourselves to learn God’s word, and in a short time you will be prepared!
3. There Is Always A Need For Service The Elderly Can Provide…
a. Some examples:
1) Hospitality and benevolence – many elderly are financially secure, able to do what many younger families cannot
2) Edification and evangelism – with so much time on their hands, why not use it to study with others?
b. Even the most infirm can do things like:
1) Send cards, make phone calls
2) Spend time in prayer and fasting
a) Luke 2:37 (Anna)
b) 1 Timothy 5:5
3) I heard of one invalid who spent her time praying for the sick, for those involved
c. From our text we see what else the elderly can and should do:
1) Psalm 92:15 … this can be done no matter what our age
2) Psalm 71:17-18 … Proclaim God’s strength to the next generation
3) Psalm 78:1-8 … To recount God’s mighty works to the next generation
A. God can certainly use people of all ages…
1. Who are willing to prepare themselves to be of service to Him?
2. Who are willing to present themselves in service to Him?
B. We may retire from secular jobs, but not from our service to the Lord…!
1. Certainly physical infirmities may limit what we can do
2. But only death can stop us from doing what we can!
C. Is the problem really one of physical infirmities, or spiritual laziness…?
1. We can’t stop the aging process
2. But we can be renewed inwardly daily! – cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16
D. Our problem may be related to our youth-oriented culture…
1. Where the wisdom and experience of the elderly is not respected
2. Where our society is too quick to put the elderly “out to pasture”
E. Other cultures reflect the scriptural norm…
1. Where the elderly are revered, their wisdom and experience appreciated
2. Where the elderly continue in roles of influence and leadership, even to death
E. I believe the righteous can and should “still bear fruit in old age”.
1. I hope that this lesson will encourage the elderly to reexamine their usefulness to the Lord and His church.
2. Let the attitude of “Paul, the aged” be your attitude as well… Philippians 3:12-15