I once met a woman who spoke to me likes so: “You listen here young man, you are too young to know what you’re talking about”. I responded to her with love, “Yes, I hear what you’re saying, now you listen to me old woman.” She was immediately offended, and as you can imagine it was met with a hurl of abuse about how I should respect my elders because they know best.
It was OK for her to call me young man, but dare I return the favor? It was ok for her to disrespect me for my youth, but to touch upon her old age was perceived as an insult by her. But do they know best? Young/old is wisdom determined by how old you are? In this post I explore that topic.
Yeah, sure, old people have lived their years, and have passed many turbulent corners in their days. They’ve been loved, dumped, duped and swindled. They know the tricks of the many foxes in our world and are street wise. There’s a lot we can learn in that respect. But at the same time, I’ve gotten some really dumb advice from old people, and I’ve heard them spew some ridiculous conspiracy theories and illogical philosophies on life.
The truth is, Wisdom does not discriminate when it comes to age. Lets take a look at what scripture tells us shall we?
We know in his letters to Timothy, because he was a young man, St.Paul told him not to let people disregard him for his youth.
Do not let people disregard you because you are young, but be an example to all the believers in the way you speak and behave, and in your love, your faith and your purity.1 Timothy 4:12
St.Paul knew Timothy would have to preach to an older generation. Can you imagine having to preach to an older generation of men and women who have lived their lives and you yourself have barely begun your own? That was a daunting task even then, for human beings behaviour doesn’t change.
They would have behaved the same way. “Who is this young man to preach to me in such a manner? How dare he lecture me on life.” It’s all pride that’s all it is. From the earliest of creation man has always praised himself, and conferred worldly honors upon himself.
So what else does scripture speak of regarding wisdom and age? Consider the following from the book of Job and that of the book of Wisdom. The emphasis in bold is from me.
Elihu had held himself back, because they were older than he was; ·but when he saw that the three men had not another word to say in answer, his anger burst out. ·Thus Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite spoke next. He said: I am still young, and you are old, so I was shy, afraid, to tell you what I know. I told myself, “Old age should speak, advancing years will utter wisdom.” But now I know that it is a breath in man, the inspiration of Shaddai, that gives discernment. Great age does not give wisdom, nor longevity sound judgment.The Book Of Job 32:4-9
The virtuous man, though he die before his time, will find rest. Length of days is not what makes age honorable, nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, this is man’s gray hairs,The Book Of Wisdom 4:7-9
We see, in scripture that being old doesn’t give you license to be wise. True Wisdom is not being able to walk a minefield through life and pave a path for the youth behind you. Wisdom in truth is eternal and of the Spirit. This is what gives a man his grey hairs whether he be 21 or 81 years of age it doesn’t matter.
Therefore, don’t disrespect each other because of your age for good advice and sound counselling does not come from the young or old. All this wisdom comes from a man steeped in a relationship with God, and of whom God has given the free gift of His Wisdom as it pleases Him to do so.
To the old, don’t disrespect the young just because they are that way, and to the young don’t disrespect your elders just because they’re old. If both of you live a good life in God, there is a great drinking to be had, and an ability to help one another on the path to eternal glory in Christ, not tear each other down.
Speaking of old people, here’s a nice song from Neil Young I’ve always loved.