Just as I thought I had ended the series on the mystery of the dreaded numbers, more thoughts came rolling into my mind while I was on the bus! Yes, while on the bus – why my mind continually presses the accelerators I have no idea! Well, this is what I pondered on…
We tend to equate age with maturity. This may be true more or less, but it is definitely not true in all cases. The danger is we take this same proportion to our Christian walk too. We consider someone who has been a “Christian” for many many years as one who is spiritual. Time and spiritual maturity I would say are not necessarily related the way we perceive.
When Samuel saw David’s oldest brother he thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here” (1 Samuel 16:6). God responded not to consider appearance or height. Seven sons of Jesse passed before Samuel (16:10). The youngest son David was out all the while tending the sheep – he was the one who was chosen to be anointed king. In fact David was a boy when he fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33) while all others backed off. Joshua son of Nun had been Moses’ aide since youth (Numbers 11:28), Samuel was also leader from his youth (1 Samuel 12:2). Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). If age was an indicator of maturity, then why would Paul tell Timothy to set an example for the believers? Ultimately maturity is about us being surrendered vessels to God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be evident. It is not about our works. Age is irrelevant.
Youthfulness is indeed from God – and we see that is also regardless of age! “… (The Lord) satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).
As mentioned before, an older person can be foolish and a young person can be wise. Ecclesiastes 4:13 says, “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning”. Ahhh… so ultimately maturity boils down to taking warning – warning from God! Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and discipline” – Proverbs 1:7.
Often our ‘understanding’ (or perhaps I should write our ‘misunderstanding’) of the concept of age leads us to discriminate one another based on age. Such cultural values often result in listening to our elders (parents, teachers, leaders, pastors etc) without questioning what is being said in light of what God is telling us and thus we end up making idols out of them. Yes, we have to respect our elders and honour our parents; that is certainly biblical. Yet, when we really think about it, our elevation of the concept of age to a level more than where it ought to be leads us to violate God’s commandments.
We tend to look down on people who are younger and we refuse to submit to them let alone respect them. Doesn’t God’s Word tell us to submit to one another? It surely doesn’t include any conditions but rather tells us ALL to do so. The biblical examples of leaders from youth as mentioned above were ones who God appointed. Jeremiah was fearful as he was young, yet God appointed him!
Many parents and leaders continue to dictate terms to their adult children or “sub-ordinates” rather than equipping them to hear from God directly and act accordingly. Was it to prevent such situations that Jesus said the following? “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). The leaving here can’t be about conflict as God does ask us to be at peace with one another as long as it depends on us. However the leaving may very well be the leaving of dependency on family and materialistic goods to lean on God and thus be able to hear Him!
Parents want good for us – that’s for sure. However good things are not necessarily God things – i.e. what God wants for us in His perfect will. Is this why Jesus says He has come to bring division on earth? “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother…” (Luke 12:53). Sadly often the voices that compete with God’s voices in our lives are those of our loved ones, especially those of our elderly loved ones. Have we ever paused for a minute why we want to honour our parents while dishonouring what God is telling us to do? Does the Bible ever say that we need to have confirmation from our parents to obey Him? Yet I personally feel those who have godly parents who can confirm and bless the callings upon their lives is a true blessing.
We need to be wary of all our prejudices – including the simple concept named ‘age’ – that can set us walking on paths that are not THE narrow path.
EVERY thing we hear or do, need to be tested against God’s Word –
both the written Word which is for all and also the specific calling God has for your life in particular.