I just can’t fathom it. Recently while walking through the halls of a local hospital, I saw a warning sign that left me extremely troubled. The big, bold print said, “Elderly Abuse.” There on the sign were phone numbers for help as well as clues of such abuse.
This world is full of sinful verbal, mental, and physical abuse hurled at children, teens, adults, and the elderly by selfish, sinful people. In particular, the elderly are just “in the way” for many younger people as well as a financial burden. They are “plastic throw-aways.” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the reason for such abuse: The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. How strong are Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 15:18-20a, But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.
How should we treat our aged parents, elderly family members, and senior citizens in general?
- We must love them.
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10).
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).
Through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
- We must respect them
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
- We must always honor them.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).
Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:2-3)
- We must listen to them
Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old (Proverbs 23:22).
- We must not cast them aside.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent (Psalm 71:9).
- We must not deride them.
The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures (Proverbs 30:17).
- We must provide for them.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Timothy 5:8).
- We must treat them with dignity.
The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair (Proverbs 20:29).
- We must speak words of grace, kindness, and forgiveness.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:30-32).
How interesting is the reversal of roles. When we were young, our parents took care of us. When we grow older, we take care of our parents. How you treat the aged will be determined by your own relationship with God the Father as well as your respect for the Word of God.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:16-26).
On a side note, don’t forget, you may be old and alone someday.
For more on this subject, check out my wife’s blog post from October 2015: