Speaking the Truth in Love

Am I in the Way?

Absalom’s rebellion forced David to retreat from Jerusalem. The king and his loyal subjects hurriedly crossed the Jordan, arriving hungry and tired at Mahanaim. Wealthy Barzillai and others supplied the weary soldiers with “beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, meal, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese” (2 Sam. 17:28-29).

Image result for 2 samuel 19After defeating his son in battle, King David traveled home. On the way he once again encountered Barzillai. Would the kind old gentleman consider coming to Jerusalem to be a permanent royal guest? Barzillai declined. “I am this day eighty years old,” he said. “Can I discern what is pleasant and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats or what he drinks? Can I still listen to the voice of singing men and singing women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?” (2 Sam. 19:35). Barzillai feared that his old age made him a nuisance. His taste buds and ears were no longer working well. Surely, the king wouldn’t want him around.

Image result for elderBut Barzillai’s great love for David produced a vital service that younger subjects were unwilling or financially unable to give. He was a blessing, not a burden. Do you ever worry that being elderly means you are “in the way”? Be assured, your unique contribution—your experience, wisdom, and good character—will bless the church as long as you live.

The apostles made a point to recognize the value of the older members in Christ’s body. Paul and Peter called the qualified male leaders of the church “elders” (Tit. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1). And Paul entrusted older women with training “the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Tit. 2:4-5, ESV).

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