Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV).
Be fair and square with people. Maybe that’s another way of saying these verses. Or perhaps it’s the Golden Rule: do for others as we’d have them do for us. Treat others like family, and treat them with dignity and respect. Respect your elders; mentor those younger; treat with dignity and kindness.
My Tuesday online bible group; my wife, kids, their spouses, and our grandkids; my sister and in-laws (father, mother, sister, brother); my work team; strangers at Kroger (or friends); the phone-reading guy hanging out in the left lane; the hundreds of people in an airport this weekend. What do all these folks have in common?
Paul reminds me that I’m to treat them like family, with dignity and respect. Go and do thou likewise.
Treat EVERYONE with respect, but especially those older than us. Years ago my family visited the World War II memorial in Washington DC. My girls were young teenagers, pretty and vivacious. A bunch of World War II veterans wanted to have their pictures taken with these two girls, who seemed understandably wary of the funny old men. My daughters came to me and I told them “go back and do it. These men are why this memorial is here. They fought so you wouldn’t have to, and in a few years, they’ll all be gone because they’re very old now.” So the girls went back and the pictures were snapped. In the process, they talked and they learned. Now, years later, the youngest of those veterans would be in their nineties; most are probably gone.
Memorials are wonderful but we don’t need them to pay respect. We should pay our respects to those who came before us simply by listening to them, by befriending them, by spending time with them. This is what God commands us to do as far back as Leviticus 19. I recently read that, when an old person dies, a library of priceless information dies with them. God gave us the gift of each other and these geriatric treasures we call “grandparents” so that we could learn from them and learn how to age ourselves. More than that, He gave us our elders and forebearers so that we might learn to honor and better know Him: the eternal Ancient of Days who was and is and is to come.
When you meet a senior citizen today, thank them. And when you see that guy in the left lane, no matter how old he is, be nice.
For further reading: Matthew 7:12, Luke 10:37, Titus 2:2, Leviticus 19:32, Titus 2:6, Revelation 1:8, 1 Timothy 5:3.
Lord, thank You for old people. Help me to treat them – and all people – with dignity and respect so that I can honor you in doing so.