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                        "GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY"


1. In speaking about "Growing Old Gracefully", I feel much like N. B.
   Hardeman who when asked to speak on a similar topic...
   a. Stated, "I am too young to speak as one should on this subject."
   b. Even though he was in his eighties or nineties at the time!

2. Most young people do not think about "growing old", which is
   a. For they have yet to experience the reality of "growing old" in
      the sense of declining in one's physical strength and mental
   b. For them getting older has always meant getting better as they
      draw closer to the peak of their physical maturity

3. If they talk about "growing old", it is often with disdain for the
   way many people spend their golden years...
   a. Discontented with life
   b. Set in their ways
   c. Bitter towards many people
   -- There is often truth in what the young say about the old:  "Some
      old women and men grow bitter with age.  The more their teeth drop
      out the more biting they get." - George Dennison Prentice

4. This has prompted many young people to say:  "I will never be like
   that when I get old!"
   a. But growing old gracefully does not happen by accident
   b. Unless one understands and applies certain principles while young,
      the chances are great that he or she will become like the elderly
      they are quick to despise
   -- Think carefully about this statement:  "Most men spend the first
      half of their lives making the second half miserable." - La

[How are you spending the first half of your life?  Will you grow old
gracefully?  Before we consider certain principles conducive to graceful
aging, a reminder of...]


      1. Moses, at the age of 120 (note the vigor of the speeches in
         Deuteronomy) - Deu 34:7
      2. Joshua, as he addressed the elders of Israel (note his
         conviction) - Josh 24:15
      3. Barzillai, the Gileadite (note his gracious hospitality at age
         eighty) - 2 Sam 19:31-38
      4. Dorcas, who helped the poor and widows - Ac 9:36-39
      5. The graceful manner in which Paul faced death - 2 Ti 4:6-8,
      6. Peter aged gracefully...
         a. Becoming an elder - 1 Pe 5:1-2
         b. Remaining diligent as death approached - 2 Pe 1:13-15
         c. Forgiving toward those who rightly rebuked him - 2 Pe 3:15;
            cf. Ga 2:11

      1. One does not need to go to the Bible to find the only examples
         of people growing old gracefully
      2. I am sure that we have all known such people
      3. I have been blessed to know a number of such people in my life
      -- Yes, growing old gracefully is possible!  When it occurs, it is
         beautiful to behold:  "When grace is joined with wrinkles, it
         is adorable.  There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age."
         - Victor Hugo

[Unfortunately, too often wrinkles are joined with grace.  How can we
who are young live today so as to grow old gracefully, and not
pathetically?  There are several principles that when applied can ensure
that growing old will be a graceful experience...]


      1. Stated more fully in Ga 6:7-8, this is true in all areas of
         a. For example, in the physical realm
            1) Sow corn, you reap corn
            2) Take good care of your body, and you enjoy good health
            3) Disregard healthy habits, and the body will suffer for it
         b. This is especially so in the spiritual realm
            1) "Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow
               trouble reap the same." - Job 4:8 (Eliphaz)
            2) Much of the bitterness, discontent, and anger which
               characterizes many older people is the result of "sowing
               to the flesh"
               a) Note the works of the flesh (the result of sowing to
                  the flesh) - Ga 5:19-21
               b) Contrast the fruit of those who sow to the Spirit - Ga
            3) How much better to do as Hosea says:  "Sow with a view to
               righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness;" (NASB)
               - Hos 10:12
      2. Yet the young often say:  "I want to sow my wild oats while I
         am still young"
         a. Then what?  Hope for a crop failure? (Don't count on it)
         b. They fail to realize the harvest of trouble they will reap
            later in life
            1) Abuse their body with sex and drugs, their health will be
            2) Engage in sexual immorality...they will ruin their
               reputation, and make it difficult to have a normal family
               life and the joy it ought to bring
         c. Consider the sad irony of it all...
            1) Most young people do not realize that the popular
               lifestyle of "doing your own thing" and "sowing your wild
               oats" is the very thing that produces the pathetic
               mental and physical condition found in many older people!
            2) So while they condemn the old for the way they wasted
               their lives and the way they turned out, they are headed
               down the same path of corruption!
      3. "He that would pass the latter part of life with honor and
         decency must, when he is young, consider that he shall one day
         be old..." - Samuel Johnson

      1. Quoted by Jesus in Mt 4:4, let's focus our attention on two
         a. Bread - involves more than just dough; includes all things
            of a material nature
         b. Live - involves more than simple existence; includes living
            life in its fullest sense, i.e., an abundant life
         -- We must realize one does not find the good life in seeking
            and acquiring material things - cf. Lk 12:15
      2. If we don't learn this while young, we will waste much of our
         life pursuing the wrong things, and hate ourselves for it when
         we face death's door
         a. Solomon came to this realization - Ecc 2:17-23
         b. Rosseau, the French philosopher, saw the ungraceful way many
            old people live out their later years as the result of
            learning this truth too late:  "Old men grasp more at life
            than babies, and leave it with a much worse grace than young
            people.  It is because all their labors having been for
            this life, they perceive at last their trouble lost."
      3. There is more to life than material things; to grow old
         gracefully we must realize this and find that which makes life
         full and abundant!
         a. Fortunately, Jesus came to help us - Jn 10:10
         b. He is the true and living Way! - Jn 14:6
         c. And it is the Word of God that shows us the way to Christ
            - Jn 5:39
            1) This illustrates the truth of Mt 4:4
            2) The Word of God reveals Christ to us, who in turn shows
               us how to really live, for He IS the Life!
      4. What a shame to go through life, only to find at last our
         labors were of no lasting value - cf. Lk 9:25; 12:15-21

      1. The word blessed means "happy, rich"
      2. Wisdom is insight, understanding, which enables one to make the
         best use of his or her talents and circumstances, avoiding the
         mistakes and pitfalls of life
      3. The value of wisdom is:
         a. Beautifully proclaimed in Pro 3:13-18
         b. Illustrated in Ep 5:15-16
            1) The days are evil (the time is short) - cf. Ja 4:13-14
            2) Wisdom helps one to utilize to the fullest what little
               time we have, instead of wasting our precious time
      4. Wisdom can be acquired in two ways:
         a. Personal experience
            1) Which can be very wasteful and time-consuming
            2) You can spend much of your life in trial and error,
               repeating the same mistakes made by others
            3) While you may finally gain wisdom...
               a) You have not only wasted much time in the trials
               b) You have to bear the consequence of your errors (you
                  reap what you sow)
         b. God and His Word - Pro 2:6
            1) What better source, than from He who by wisdom created
               the universe - Pro 3:19-20
            2) With such wisdom, especially at an early age...
               a) Our journey through life will more pleasant and
                  graceful - Pro 3:21-26
               b) We can get a head start and soon pass those who learn
                  only through trial and error - cf. Psa 119:97-100

[With the wisdom found in God's Word, it is possible to grow old
gracefully.  For in it we learn:

   1) How to avoid the needless suffering experienced by those reaping
      the results of learning by trial and error

   2) The true purpose of life is not to found in the material things of
      life, but in that which Jesus Christ has to offer!

To help us apply these principles, here are some practical steps based
upon Paul's exhortations to the young preacher Timothy...]


      1. "...be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in
         love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1 Ti 4:12
      2. There is no way you can avoid being an example to others
         a. You will be either be a good example
         b. Or you will be an example of what not to be
      3. Determine to be an example of those who believe, and this will
         set you on the right track of one who grow old gracefully!

      1. "Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to
         doctrine." - 1 Ti 4:13
      2. Commit yourself to studying and teaching the Word of God to
      3. This will assure that you have an open line to God's wisdom
      4. So study the Bible daily, and share what you learn with others!

      1. "Do not neglect the gift that is in you..." - 1 Ti 4:14
      2. The degree to which you reap will be based upon the ability
         with which you can sow
      3. If you want to reap a large harvest of good in this life,
         develop your talents!

      1. "Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that
         your progress may be evident to all.  Take heed to yourself
         and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you
         will save both yourself and those who hear you." - 1 Ti 4:15-16
      2. Growing old gracefully, like many good things, does not happen
         by accident
      3. It takes concentrated effort, so be diligent and persevere!


1. "To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful,
   reverent--that is to triumph over old age." - Thomas Bailey Aldrich

2. Is it possible to triumph over old age, to grow old gracefully?  Yes,
   for I have seen it happen time and again!

3. But those of us who are young must realize the experience is reserved
   for those who...
   a. Follow the wisdom of God
   b. Understand the abundant life is not found in worldly things
   c. Sow in such a way as to bear fruit and reap a harvest leading to
      eternal life

4. Such a person will be like those described in Psa 92:12-15...

   "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
      He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
   Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
      Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
   They shall still bear fruit in old age;
      They shall be fresh and flourishing,
   To declare that the LORD is upright;
      He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."

Don't you wish to be like that?  By the grace of God you can!  In Christ
Jesus you can become a new creature (2 Co 5:17), made possible by the
washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Ti 3:5).

The sooner you begin this new life, the less "baggage" of the old life
you will have to contend with, and the more you can do for the Lord...
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