Profiles of the Christian Old Man and Woman
It is reasonable to expect that the virtues of godliness will automatically be included in the Christian's guide to daily living. So why did the Apostle Paul find it necessary to instruct Titus on what he should teach to his older congregants?
It is believed that Paul was responsible for Titus’s conversion to Christianity. He referred to Titus as “my partner and co-worker” (2 Corinthians 8:23), and as “my true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4). He assigned Titus to be his representative for the church he founded in Crete, an island in the Mediterranean which now forms part of modern Greece.
Paul mentioned in his letter to Titus, the reason for the assignment: to complete unfinished business (Titus 1), which included the layout of social behaviors for each segment of the congregation (Titus 2). Each individual was to be convinced that personal integrity mattered to the influence of Christian standards in the community. Each was to exemplify a righteous lifestyle.
“Titus is to start with the older men and then the women because it does not and cannot stop there; their lives are to be holy; their lives are to respect the fact that they, by God's mercy, have been placed in an important position. They are an important part of the pattern that is to be passed on.” (Paul’s Letter to Titus for Today, Research Gate.net)
The following brief profiles are suggestive of the lifestyles of the old man and old woman, who follow the instructions which Titus received from Paul.
The Christian Old Man
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect,
self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
― Titus 2: 2 NIV
The Christian old man is charming in a different way than when he was young. His persona gets more attention than his physique. His self-importance fades and his Christlikeness becomes his main appeal.
Women and children are attracted to his “temperate” or discreet habits. He addresses them, not with terms which suggest physical or emotional intimacy, but with titles which express admiration for God’s creation of his gentler counterpart. He laughs with them and engages them in lively conversation without a hint of vulgarity.
His deportment, whether classy or casual, summons respect. He also respects the value which God placed on others. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he controls his appetites as well as his anger and disgust at the frustrations of life.
The three abiding virtues of “faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13), are embedded in the old man. His faith and love remain vibrant; and his hope is undergirded with “endurance,” or patience. For his youthful hope was focused on possessions and achievements scheduled on his timetable; now, he must wait for his most cherished hope, which is the physical presence of God and heaven. And while he waits throughout the aging process, his patience keeps him peaceful and joyful.
He remains faithful, enduring seasons of suffering, while modeling His Savior’s love and grace. God honors the Christian old man; and young men and women hold him in high regard.
The Christian Old Woman
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way
they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine,
but to teach what is good. ―Titus 2: 3 NIV
The Christian old woman is attractive, not necessarily because of the graceful fashion she wears; but definitely because her entire being is endowed with the inner, timeless “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).
Her disposition is sacred, not sanctimonious, because she credits her grooming to the influence of God’s Holy Spirit within her. Godliness is displayed in her “dress, appearance, conversation, manner” (Ellicott’s Commentary).
Children and youth admire her efforts to remain relatable, as she laughs and learns with them. By her honest counsel, based on her experiences, she guides young adult women through the mundane struggle for survival to the permeating joy of virtuous, productive womanhood. She is a supportive ray of sunshine to her peers.
She may still talk too much for some, but compliments not criticisms become her watchword, since she has learned the value of building up instead of breaking down. Gratitude, not grumbling becomes her main expression, because she counts more blessings than burdens and blunders.
Her happiness comes from the divine strength which maintains her beautify within; not from external products. She renounces intoxicating liquors and harmful drugs. She feeds her body with healthy nutrients, her mind and spirit with godly teachings. The Christian old woman is the beacon of hope to those who have listened to the horrors of aging. She is her Savior’s exhibit of His ageless love, goodness, joy, peace and comfort.
While we cannot exhaust all the issues about Christian old men and women, here are a few thoughts from Billy Graham which may introduce some other aging considerations on which we can reflect:
- "Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life."
- "Every day is a gift from God, no matter how old we are."
- "As I got older, I guess I became more mellow and more forgiving and more loving."
- "All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian, but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in the years before I die. I wish they had because I am an old man now and, believe me, it's not easy."
- "I often wonder if God, in his sovereignty, allows the eyesight of the aged to cast a dim view of the here and now so that we may focus our spiritual eyes on the ever after."
- "Old age may have its limitations and challenges, but in spite of them, our latter years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives."
Do You Admire Aging Lifestyles?
Is there an old man or woman whose aging lifestyle you would like to imitate?
© 2020 Dora Weithers