Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows who are really widows. (1 Timothy 5:1-3)
Respect For Age
There are many attributes that set a Christian apart from the world but one should be the respect given for age. From ancient times, the Lord has expected His people to hold a higher standard to those who are older. In the Law of Moses it was directed that one should rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man. This was based upon a fear of God and respect given for the Lord. Elisha the prophet was mocked by some youths who called him “bald head” and pronouncing a curse upon them two female bears mauled forty-two of the young people. Paul’s instructions to Timothy ring clear the respect young people should learn for their elders. The young preacher was to be an example to others and it was especially important that he give honor to those older than he as father figures and older women as mothers. This does not mean older folk cannot be rebuked or chastised for conduct unbecoming a disciple of Christ but the mode of correction should be with respect. Showing honor for age is part of the character of holiness. The Law of Moses had provisions that if a child dishonored their parents they could be stoned to death. God’s impression left on the mind of man is that respecting age is very serious to the Lord. While the Law of Moses has been abolished the attitude of God toward respecting the aged has not.
Children learn early to respect others. Parents should instill in their children to speak with reverence to their elders and show honor to them. It may not require a ‘yes-sir no-sir’ but it should not be far from it. Young people need to be around older folk. They need to listen to their wisdom and learn lessons from their lives. Exhorting older folks as fathers and mothers comes from a heart cultivated with the respect God wants from young people. Being older does not mean someone is right about everything. Young people make wrong choices because they are young and older folk make wrong choices because they are older. In both cases a wrong decision was made. Paul the older preacher is helping Timothy the younger preacher learn how to interact with his spiritual family. Honor those who are older, respect those who are of the same age and take special note of those who have lost their husbands. This will build a community of people that love one another seeing after their needs regardless of age.
Everyone needs exhortation. The older folk can look at the younger generation with distrust and the younger elite can view the older as outdated. Both are wrong. There is a reason God made our time of youth to be filled with experimentation and mistakes. Learning is an ageless process that does not end when we get older. Some who have reached a mature age have less maturity than those younger. The key ingredient in the relationships of youth to elder is to have respect for one another based upon a love and devotion from God. Learning to give honor to the older is a basic character development in having respect for God. If a child does not learn to give reverence to others, how can they have a heart of respect for the Lord? Many children who are spoiled and taught to disrespect others will do the same thing to the Bible, the church and the Lord Himself. Timothy was admonished to chasten others with a love like a father or mother, brother or sister.