I’m not quite ready for the Rasin Ranch yet, but I’m not as peppy as the Six Flags guy either. What I am learning however, is that every season and circumstance of life, brings with them their own, peculiar temptations. Age not excluded. It is true that there is some generalization in this observation, but the tendencies remain typical.
In 1 Kings, we read the following of Solomon: “When Solomon became old, his wives shifted his allegiance to other gods; he was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been.” (1 Kings 11:4)
Age weakens resolve. This is a lesson every Christian must take to heart. And it shows itself in two ways.
Now it is true that in some things, the wisdom of age and experience may teach us where we have been too harsh or made poor judgments in the past. At the same time, we must beware we do not fall to compromise when making corrections. Due to the loss of energy in old age (and I think mainly of emotional and mental energy here) we can lose the resolve to keep from growing soft on the non-negotiables, as well as intractable in areas where moderation is legitimately called for.
In areas of clear Biblical truth, we dare not compromise. What God’s Word teaches unambiguously, must be clung to with a tenacity which allows no modification, no matter how compelling the reason. In Solomon’s case, as the NET puts it, Solomon was “irresistibly attracted” to his foreign wives. That they had a “powerful influence over him.” And in time, with age, he gave in to providing idolatrous places of worship for them, which eventually snared his own soul. He wanted to please them. More than he wanted to please his God. And it spelled disaster for him personally, and for the nation.
At the same time, when age robs us of mental energy, it is easy to become so fixed in areas where there may be legitimate differences among sound Biblical people – we can lose a proper elasticity of charity and write off any who do not share our exact understanding in things non-essential to the Gospel and Biblical truth. Or, worse yet, make every difference an issue of Gospel fidelity. So for instance in Romans 14 where there were disagreements over regard of certain days and of eating certain foods. Such areas can bring unnecessary division when we make the debate so pointed, as to fail to allow for any legitimate difference. And to argue the issues to the point where we claim any holding any other view are compromising the Gospel. When we lack energy to treat legitimate shades and subtleties, we can grow overly hard in places where we ought to remain generous. These aren’t necessarily age-related – but I do sense in myself how much more prone I am toward them as I grow older.
Not all gentleness is weakness. Not all strength is loving. Not all freedom to disagree is license. Not all refusal to agree need be condemnation. Such matters are not always easy to distinguish. And more difficult to discern and maintain as we grow older. I do believe it is a good thing to be warned of such realities, and to pray that the Lord may guard our hearts accordingly.
Heavenly Father, preserve us in such days. Preserve me. Help me to keep a clear eye. Let me keep from compromise in every area, and at the same time, soften my heart when it has been my flesh that has made me overly strict or opinionated. Let the Spirit of Christ dominate my heart and mind. Be glorified in and through me. You are ageless, and never change. In contrast, I begin to reckon with the creeping frailty of age more each day. With temptations both to compromise, and toward hardness. So fill me with your Spirit afresh, that I may always walk in the perfections of Christ, and not according to the weaknesses of my fallen flesh. For Jesus’ sake, and for His name.