STUDY ARTICLE 35
Treasure Our Faithful Older Ones
“Gray hair is a crown of beauty.”—PROV. 16:31.
SONG 138 Beauty in Gray-Headedness
1-2. (a) According to Proverbs 16:31, how should we view faithful older ones? (b) What questions will we answer in this article?
VISITORS to a state park in Arkansas, U.S.A., might find diamonds in plain view on the ground. However, those diamonds are in their natural, uncut state. As a result, many who see the diamonds might not realize what they are looking at and just walk right past these treasures.
2 In some ways, our faithful older ones are like those diamonds; they are precious treasures. God’s Word likens the gray hair of such ones to a crown. (Read Proverbs 16:31; 20:29) These treasures, though, can easily be overlooked. Younger ones who recognize the value of older ones can gain something more beneficial than literal riches. In this article, we will answer three questions: Why does Jehovah view faithful older ones as treasures? What place does Jehovah have in his arrangement for such ones? What can we do to benefit fully from their example?
WHY JEHOVAH VIEWS FAITHFUL OLDER ONES AS TREASURES
3. In line with Psalm 92:12-15, why are faithful older ones precious to Jehovah?
3 Faithful older ones are precious to Jehovah God. He sees them for who they really are on the inside, and he knows and values their wonderful qualities. He appreciates it when older ones pass on to younger ones the wisdom they have gained during a lifetime of faithful service. (Job 12:12; Prov. 1:1-4) Jehovah also treasures their endurance. (Mal. 3:16) Their lives have not been trouble free; yet, their faith in Jehovah has never wavered. Their hope for the future is brighter than it was when they first learned the truth. And Jehovah loves them because they continue to declare his name “even in old age.”—Read Psalm 92:12-15.
4. What thoughts should comfort our older brothers and sisters?
4 If you are getting well along in years, be assured that Jehovah remembers the work you have done in the past. (Heb. 6:10) You have zealously supported the preaching work, and that pleases our heavenly Father. You have endured trials—even heartbreaking ones—upheld the Bible’s righteous standards, carried heavy loads of responsibility, and trained others. You have done your best to keep pace with Jehovah’s fast-moving organization. You have supported and encouraged others as they pursued the full-time ministry. Jehovah God loves you very much for being loyal. He promises that “he will not abandon his loyal ones”! (Ps. 37:28) He gives you this assurance: “Until your hair is gray I will keep bearing you.” (Isa. 46:4) So do not conclude that in view of your advancing years, you no longer have an important role in Jehovah’s organization. You most certainly do!
GOD HAS A PLACE FOR OLDER ONES
5. What should older ones keep in mind?
5 Older ones have much to offer. Although they may not have the strength they once had, they do have a wealth of experience that they have acquired over the years. Jehovah can continue to use them in various ways, as the following examples from the past and the present show.
6-7. Give examples from the Bible of older ones who received blessings for their loyal service.
6 We can find good examples in the Bible of faithful ones who actively served Jehovah into their old age. Moses, for instance, was about 80 years old when he began serving as Jehovah’s prophet and representative to the nation of Israel. Jehovah was still using Daniel as His spokesman when the prophet was probably in his 90’s. And the apostle John was likely also in his 90’s when he was inspired to write the book of Revelation.
7 Many other faithful ones were not prominent or well-known, and they could easily have been overlooked. Still, Jehovah noticed them and rewarded their loyalty. For example, the “righteous and devout” man Simeon is mentioned just briefly in the Bible, but Jehovah knew who he was and granted him the privilege of seeing the infant Jesus and of prophesying about the child and his mother. (Luke 2:22, 25-35) Think, too, of the widowed prophetess Anna. She was 84 years old but was “never missing from the temple.” Her faithful “meeting attendance” was richly rewarded when on one occasion she too saw the infant Jesus. Both Simeon and Anna were precious to Jehovah.—Luke 2:36-38.
8-9. What contribution do widows continue to make?
8 In modern times, many faithful older ones serve as excellent examples for younger ones. Consider the experience of Sister Lois Didur. She was just 21 years old when she started to serve as a special pioneer in Canada. After that, she and her husband, John, spent a number of years in the traveling work. They later served at Canada Bethel for over 20 years. When Lois was 58, she and John were invited to accept an assignment in Ukraine. What would they do? Would they conclude that they were too old to serve in another country? They accepted the assignment, and John was appointed to serve on the Branch Committee there. After John’s death seven years later, Lois decided to stay in her assignment. Now, at the age of 81, Lois continues to serve as a productive and much loved member of the Ukraine Bethel family.
9 Widows like Lois may not be noticed as much as they were when their husband was alive; nevertheless, widowhood does not diminish their value. Jehovah highly values sisters who supported their husband for years and now continue to show the same steadfastness. (1 Tim. 5:3) In addition, they provide real encouragement to younger ones.
10. What excellent example did Tony set?
10 The many faithful older ones who live in adult care facilities are also spiritual treasures. For example, a brother named Tony now lives in such a facility. He got baptized in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in August 1942 at the age of 20. He soon faced the neutrality issue and as a result spent two and a half years in prison. He and his wife, Hilda, raised two children in the truth. Over the years, Tony served in three congregations as the presiding overseer (now known as the coordinator of the body of elders) and as a circuit assembly overseer. He conducted meetings and Bible studies at a state prison. At 98, Tony is not ready to take it easy. He keeps doing his very best to serve Jehovah and to work closely with the local congregation!
11. How can we show that we treasure those who live in adult care facilities?
11 How can we show honor to older ones who live in adult care facilities? Elders can include them in congregation activities to the extent possible. We can show personal attention by visiting them or inviting them to a video chat. We want to give special attention to older ones who may be living in a facility far from their home congregation. If we are not attentive, we could overlook these older ones. Some of them may not find it easy or think it appropriate to talk about themselves. But we will benefit greatly when we take the time to draw them out and listen as they tell about the joys they have experienced in Jehovah’s organization.
12. What can we find in our own congregation?
12 We may be surprised to find that there are outstanding examples of faithful older ones in our own congregation. A sister named Harriette served Jehovah faithfully for decades in her home congregation in New Jersey, U.S.A. Then she moved away to live with her daughter. Brothers in her new congregation took the time to get to know her, and they discovered a treasure. She encouraged them with accounts of field service when she first learned the truth in the 1920’s. Back then, she always carried a toothbrush with her when she went preaching—in case she got arrested. In fact, twice in 1933 she spent a week in jail. During such times, her non-Witness, supportive husband cared for their three young children. Certainly, faithful older ones like Harriette deserve to be treasured!
13. What have we learned about the place that older ones occupy in Jehovah’s arrangement?
13 Our older brothers and sisters have an important role in Jehovah’s arrangement. They have seen how Jehovah has in many different ways blessed his organization and them personally. They have learned important lessons from mistakes they have made. View them as a “fountain of wisdom,” and draw on their experience. (Prov. 18:4) If you take the time to get to know them, your faith can be strengthened and you will learn a thing or two!
BENEFIT FULLY FROM THE EXAMPLE OF OLDER ONES
14. What does Deuteronomy 32:7 encourage younger ones to do?
14 Take the initiative to talk with older ones. (Read Deuteronomy 32:7.) True, their eyesight may have dimmed, their pace may have slowed, and their speech may have softened, but they are young at heart, and they have made “a good name” with Jehovah. (Eccl. 7:1) Remember why Jehovah treasures them. Continue to show them honor. Be like Elisha. He insisted on staying close to Elijah on their last day together. Three times Elisha declared: “I will not leave you.”—2 Ki. 2:2, 4, 6.
15. What questions might we ask older ones?
15 Show genuine interest in older ones by kindly drawing them out. (Prov. 1:5; 20:5; 1 Tim. 5:1, 2) Ask such questions as these: “When you were younger, what convinced you that you had found the truth?” “How have your experiences drawn you closer to Jehovah?” “What have you found to be the secret to remaining happy in Jehovah’s service?” (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Then listen as they tell their story.
16. How can talking with each other benefit both an older one and a younger one?
16 When an older one and a younger one talk with each other, both benefit. (Rom. 1:12) You younger ones will enrich your appreciation for the way Jehovah cares for his faithful servants, and the older one will feel dignified. He will enjoy recounting to you how he has received Jehovah’s blessings.
17. Why can we say that faithful older ones become more beautiful with the passing of years?
17 Physical beauty usually fades with age, but those who are loyal to Jehovah become more beautiful to him with each passing year. (1 Thess. 1:2, 3) Why is that true? Because over the years, they have allowed God’s spirit to mold them and refine them. The more we get to know our precious older brothers and sisters, honor them, and learn from them, the more we will view them as priceless treasures!
18. What will we consider in the next article?
18 The congregation grows stronger not only when younger ones treasure older ones but also when older ones value younger ones. In our next article, we will discuss how older ones can show that they treasure younger ones in the congregation.
SONG 144 Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
a Faithful older ones are like precious treasures. This article will encourage us to heighten our appreciation for them and will discuss how we can benefit fully from their wisdom and experience. It will also assure older ones that they occupy an important place in God’s organization.