How Christians Can Age With Grace

how christians can age gracefully
Last Updated On May 31, 2024

Over the years, many clients and friends have shared a common sentiment with me: “getting old isn’t for wimps.” As our bodies age, everything seems to become more challenging. Despite these difficulties, I have had the privilege of knowing many people who didn’t allow that to cloud their view of life.

Staying active, eating well, and keeping socially engaged are all fantastic ways to support healthy aging. But how can Christians age in a way that glorifies God? Let’s explore what the Bible has to say about aging and how we can maintain a positive outlook that attracts and inspires younger generations.

What the Bible Says About Aging

The Bible offers profound wisdom on growing older. Here, we’ll focus on three key points.

A. Older People Are To Be Respected

Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”

Leviticus 19:32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”

Unfortunately, our modern culture often overlooks this wisdom, favoring youth and disregarding the elderly. However, God’s message is clear: we must respect and honor our elders. While aging doesn’t necessarily equate to having all the answers or living a perfect life, it signifies that God values them, and so should we.

B. Age Brings Physical Decline

The Bible acknowledges the physical decline that accompanies aging. Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 vividly describes the inevitable deterioration of our bodies as a consequence of sin. This reality can be one of the most challenging aspects of aging. Yet it also invites us to either dwell in our sorrow or look forward to what God has in store for us.

C. Growing Older Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Flourish

Psalm 92:12-15 beautifully captures the potential for vitality in old age: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

There are two distinct ways to approach aging. One focuses on self and what we have lost, often leading to a joyless existence and difficulty connecting with others. The other focuses on God and the eternal gains awaiting us after our earthly struggles. Those who eagerly anticipate the future with God can experience a vibrant, infectious zest for life.

How Can Christians Age With Grace?

How can we live in a way that is honoring to God and stay relevant to our loved ones? Here are some Biblical principles and practical observations to help guide us:

1. Stay Close To God

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

As we age, our bodies may weaken, but our spiritual strength can grow if we remain close to God. Often, we drift away from God due to a lack of regular time with Him or involvement in church, only to wonder why we feel distant. Maintaining a close relationship with God is crucial because He is our ultimate source of strength and hope.

With potentially more free time in our later years, dedicating some of it to deepening our relationship with God can significantly enrich our lives and reinforce our hope for the future.

2. Be Purposeful

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

We all face the inevitability of death unless the Lord returns first. It’s easy to let time slip away without purpose. The Bible encourages us to live purposefully, making the most of our time.

A friend of mine illustrated this well. Passionate about missions, she created a rolodex of missionary prayer support cards, praying for different missionaries daily and sending them encouraging messages. Although she couldn’t participate in missions directly, she supported the Gospel in a meaningful way, forming bonds with those she prayed for and finding encouragement herself.

Finding at least one way to further the Gospel can have a profound impact, even if it seems small.

3. Attitude Matters

2 Corinthinians 4:16 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Attitude plays a crucial role in how we handle aging. It can be depressing if we focus solely on our physical decline. However, growing in our relationship with God and focusing on what is to come can foster a graceful attitude toward the challenges of aging.

I’ve admired many older individuals who, despite facing significant physical difficulties, maintained a joyful spirit and a sense of humor. They regularly reflected on God’s faithfulness and were grateful for what He had done. Their positive attitude made them a joy to be around and an inspiration to others.

4. Keep Learning

Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”

Wisdom is the application of knowledge, and continuing to learn is vital for maintaining and growing wisdom. As we get older, it can be easy to stop learning because the world is changing so much. We may not be able to keep up with everything, but staying curious and open to new knowledge helps us stay engaged and relevant.

I had a friend in her late 80’s who was very curious about computers. Despite growing up during the Great Depression and retiring before the advent of computers, took classes and learned to use a computer. She even bought a computer for her daughter (who was in her 60’s and had also never used a computer), inspiring her to learn as well.

Maximizing our time as we age is essential. Learning about things that matter for eternity, can have a lasting impact.

5. Stay Engaged

Psalm 71:18 “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

One of the most impactful funerals was one I never attended. I lived in New Jersey when the World Trade Center attack happened in 2001. In the aftermath, there were many funerals as people commuted to NYC for work. The church I attended hosted a funeral for a local couple who were killed in the attack, but their church facility was too small. The couple was older, yet the service was standing room only and attended by mainly younger people. This couple had an amazing ministry to the young people in their lives, imparting the wisdom of God to the next generation.

Typically, funerals for older individuals are attended by their peers. Yet, this couple took this verse to heart and applied it in their life. Building and maintaining such relationships can be challenging but profoundly rewarding. You have wisdom to pass along to the young, and if done in an appropriate manner, will help them understand God better and bring Him glory.

Final Thought

Our approach to aging profoundly affects us and those around us. Aging doesn’t have to be a time of misery and complaining. It can be a period of significant growth and fulfillment. By using our time wisely and focusing on what truly matters, we can positively influence our world and bring greater glory to God.

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