Do Not Neglect the Elderly Among Us
1 From earliest times the elderly among Jehovah’s people have been held in high esteem. They were respected for the experience and knowledge that age brings and for the wisdom and sound judgment it may produce. Elihu showed this respect when he addressed Job’s three companions. (Job 32:6, 7; 12:12) Jehovah, who refers to himself as “the Ancient of Days,” commanded: “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man.”—Lev. 19:32; Dan. 7:9.
2 Respect for age is also evident in the Christian congregation. The wisdom that comes with accumulated years of faithful service can make a substantial and beneficial contribution to the entire association of the brothers. Unaffected by the attitude of this passing old system, we are grateful for the blessings of having the elderly among us. The question is, Do we always show it? Or may we, perhaps unwittingly sometimes, neglect older ones, thus missing a great blessing ourselves?
3 Are the older ones made to feel welcome at the meetings and encouraged to participate freely? Are arrangements made to assist them in getting to meetings and into field service, even if some of them are not able to stay out as long as others in the group? Are they included when personal social arrangements are made, perhaps to share a meal or to enjoy pleasurable association?
4 What of those confined for health reasons to home, bed or institutions? Are regular visits made by elders and others, keeping such ones supplied with current spiritual food? Can younger ones be encouraged to assist such infirm ones with shopping, housework, errands, etc.? Would you be willing to read aloud from the Bible or one of the Society’s publications to an older person no longer enjoying good eyesight? Elderly ones may hold back from requesting assistance in various circumstances, but without doubt they will be deeply appreciative if it is offered.
5 It has happened that unbelieving relatives have assumed responsibility for disabled elderly brothers, placing them in homes or institutions far away without the congregation’s knowledge. This can result in bleak and lonely isolation, unless the congregation exerts every effort to ascertain the whereabouts of such ones and thereafter inform the congregation nearest to them of their need for Christian association. In the meantime, the original congregation ought to keep in touch as much as possible by telephone, letter writing or visits.
6 Growing old sometimes brings disorders affecting behavior, which can become matters of concern in the congregation. Elders should approach these problems with great love, compassion and understanding, not dealing harshly or unkindly. (1 Tim. 5:1) In times of serious illness or need our elderly brothers need to know that the congregation is aware of their situation, ready to render assistance and indeed appreciative of this opportunity to express love to them.
7 Jehovah’s elderly servants should always be made to feel the love, appreciation and respect of the congregation. Rather than neglecting them, as the world often does, let us assign them dignity and honor and thus reflect the loving viewpoint of our ageless heavenly Father.—Prov. 16:31.