Judging by the popularity of Antiques Road Show and the crowds that spontaneously generate around weekend flea markets and antiques klatches, we are fascinated with old things. Yet, how quickly we toss that old dress or game or toy when it no longer seems useful. Years later, when nostalgia slowly replaces practicality in our lives, we wish we hadn't thrown out that Coke bottle that is fetching $500 on e-bay, or the picture of Great Grandpa Hezekiah that, on closer inspection, has Abe Lincoln standing in the background.
Whether seemingly valuable at the time or not, great value accrues to things as they age. The best wines and cheeses are aged. Scars bear witness to the durability of fine leather. Antiques dealers remind people that refinishing antique furniture lowers its value. Photographers specialize in black and white portraits of children adorned with antique attire and props. I'm considering fake dates on my tombstone (say, the 1850s) so I don't have to wait 100 years for people to walk by and say in awe, "Wow! He died in 2009!" Old is beautiful.
When it comes to people, society sends a different message: young is beautiful--and valuable. Instead of aging gracefully, Botox, hair dye, liposuction, and laser treatments guarantee we can look forever young and unnatural. Even American churches set their sights on the younger generation as the hope of the future, targeting them with programs and campaigns, while older folks try to look and act younger. Kids act older, seniors act younger. We're never satisfied.
There is nothing wrong with looking good and enjoying life. But there is wisdom in the saying, "Act your age!" Neither youth nor old age are seasons to be ashamed of.
The Bible places great value on the godly of every generation. Timothy was a young pastor--a "younger elder." Paul told him, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). Although young and inexperienced, Timothy could be mightily used of God, even as an example to seniors.
On the other hand, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life" (Proverbs 16:31). Like scars in fine rawhide, like the tang of aged Asiago, wrinkles and gray hair can attest to the genuineness of a godly life.
External looks are not as important as the inner person. The goal of life is not to look and act as young as possible as long as possible; it is to grow as spiritually mature as possible. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3, 4). Older folks are to teach younger folks, not vice versa. "Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live . . . Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:35).
"Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing" (Psalm 92:13, 14). God, "The Ancient of Days" (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22), honors the aged man and woman who has lived a righteous life. What attracts Him is not the outward appearance but the inner man.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). If the outward you is getting a bit worn and faded, don't despair! If you're allowing the Lord to grow you inside, you are still valuable--a human Cabernet!
Alan Allegra is a freelance Christian writer in Pennsylvania. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles at Lifestyles Over 50: http://www.lifestylesover50.com/ and the Morning Call: www.mcall.com. Available for writing. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alanallegra/
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