Growing Old Gracefully

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     Are you afraid to grow old?  Many fear aging because of the negative aspects related to it.  Some of these are:  loss of health, diminished activities that make us feel worthwhile, loss of physical abilities, loss of friends and social structure.  We associate aging with loss and we fear, even dread, getting older. 
     Why not embrace old age and make the best of these years?  As you get older you don’t just decay, you grow.  You grow in knowledge and experience.  You grow in understanding who you are and your purpose for being here.  Character counts at all times and in every aspect of our lives.  It is invaluable in old age.  Here are some qualities that will help you grow old gracefully.
     First, you need dignity.  Dignity is our sense of worthiness.  Ultimately, our sense of self worth comes from the fact that we are created in the image of God and that we are in covenant relationship with God (we are a Christian).  Speaking of Christians, Paul states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  Physically, God made us special through the act of creation.  Spiritually, God makes us special through the act of redemption!  Pride is an enemy of dignity.  Grudges, ill-will, and mean-spiritedness will ruin old age.
     Second, you need courage.  Courage is the conviction to do what is right in the face of danger or difficulty.  The fear of loss associated with old age can be overcome through courage.  As we become more infirm physically, it is possible for Christians to become stronger spiritually.  “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16).  Fear is the opposite of courage.  Lovelessness is the opposite of courage.  Paul declares that love “beareth all things” (I Cor. 13:7).  Love is strong.  Unbelief is the opposite of courage.  Faith in God makes us courageous (Heb. 11:33-40). 
     Third, you need humor.  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22).  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Be optimistic.  Love believeth all things and hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7).  The opposite of optimism is dread and pessimism.  Is the glass half-empty or half-full?  You decide.
     Fourth, you need meekness.  We must face life with good emotion.  Meekness is an inner strength that is closely associated with humility.  It is not weakness.  Meekness helps us cope with change.  When we are faced with burdens to bear, we can bear them by using all of the resources available to us as Christians.  We supply our own strength.  We get help from fellow Christians (Gal. 6:1-2) and we take our burdens to the Lord (I Pet. 5:7).
     Fifth, you need love.  Love enhances all that we are and all that we do (I Cor. 13:1-3).  Love is broken down by Paul through the prism of inspiration into sixteen constituent elements (I Cor. 13:4-8).  “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, charity never faileth…”  
     Sixth, you need a sense of importance. Why do people say, “Oh, to be young again.”  Perhaps the answer is unsatisfied lives.  Lives that haven’t found meaning.  The purpose for which God created us was twofold.  First, God created us so He could delight in us and have fellowship with us.  Second, God created us so that we could glorify Him (Rev. 4:11).  Christians fulfill their redemptive purpose as well whenever they glorify God in their bodies and in their spirits (I Cor. 6:20).  We find true meaning in life by serving God and others.  Don’t be selfish and self-centered.
     Seventh, you need relationships.  People are important.  They are more important than material things.  If you want to grow old gracefully, invest in your family, friends, neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ.  You can’t substitute material things for love.  In old age, be generous in giving and receiving love. 
     The best way to grow old gracefully is to live each day in God’s grace and bask in His goodness.  This requires that you be a New Testament Christian.