Recently I had occasion to need the services of a government office. The clerk who waited on me was a young woman perhaps college age. She was politely scornful as she answered my questions and I went away feeling very despised.
The Lord instructed the Israelites through Moses to honor their elders by standing (not sitting) in their presence. To honor gray haired people is to honor the Creator, our Lord God. That is a simple way to be respectful but the fallen nature resists acknowledging someone else as superior.
Leviticus 19:32 You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
A young person has hair-trigger reactions and strength. An older person is slower to act because he/she stops to think and consider their actions. This is especially true of those who follow Jesus. Older people also demonstrate wisdom gained from a lifetime of experiences.
Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; It is gained in a righteous life.
Proverbs 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Older people value life as much as younger people do. They acknowledge their waning strength, but they realize that they still have much of great value to share with their children and grandchildren. In the mobility of today’s restless society many youth and working adults forfeit the treasure of wisdom their elders have to share. I loved my grandparents and considered my maternal grandfather the most holy man I ever knew. I realized that he was just a man subject to errors, but I loved and respected him as a man beloved by his Lord. Even as a seven year old I held him in high regard.
Psalm 71:9, 18 ampc 9 Cast me not off nor send me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent and my powers fail.
18 Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not, [but keep me alive] until I have declared Your mighty strength to [this] generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come.
The following passage describes older followers of Jesus as He sees them. Godly elders are extremely fruitful in their lives and relationships. A number of years ago some highly educated professors and skilled professionals organized a Christian university and made their school known. It operated successfully a number of years until some less educated, less experienced individuals became jealous and put the elders out of business in a lawsuit. What a loss to society at large and what a shame for those energetic older persons.
Psalm 9 :12-15 ampc 12 The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible].
13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].
15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
God loves and honors the elderly. This is clear by the promises He has given to them in the Book of Isaiah. I have prayed these promises for myself and others that I know and realize that they need God’s favor and protection.
Isaiah 46:4 ampc Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.
To sum up how the elderly need and want respect and courtesy, consider this admonition that Jesus gave His listeners, to be respectful of everyone as His representative. Actions have consequences. Consider your actions toward others carefully because they will come back to bite or bless you.
Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.