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Responsible Old Age

1 Timothy 5:5-6
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. (NIV)

Growing old graciously takes a lifetime of practise! Usually, increasing age displays more of our real character. We will lose some of the social tricks which cover up our weaknesses and will increasingly reveal what we are really like. The potential load of social care to widows in Ephesus was huge and so Paul instructed Timothy to focus on those widows who had nobody to help them, and who have practically demonstrated their faith in Jesus.
The first sign of faith, for someone who is destitute, is confidence in God and absence of anxiety. Instead of worrying, the widow will pray; instead of haranguing neighbours and complaining about her circumstances, she will keep on asking God to help her. She sees that her future is safe in God’s hands (Psalm 37:25). Contrast that attitude with those who, while claiming poverty, only live for each day and spend what they have to please themselves; they are living spiritually moribund lives.
It is good for young and middle aged people to spend time with gracious and godly people who are in the last part of their lives. Their character shows through and they can be a wonderful example to the church. Likewise, godly grandparents can leave a lasting legacy in the hearts of their grandchildren. Often, the believers who have only a little demonstrate best what is important: prayer, trust and obedience. They have practised looking to Jesus for salvation, God’s Word for instruction, and the Holy Spirit for strength. Although most Word@Work readers are of working age, and not elderly, this passage is a reminder to all of us to start preparing our hearts for old age.

Dear Heavenly Father. Thank You for loving me, and for the example of gracious older believers who have given me a model of Christ-likeness. Please help me to practise praying in the good times so that I learn to trust You: I do not want to become embittered in old age, anxious and frustrated in seeking pleasure. May I learn well from godly examples and learn how to become a role model for younger people. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams