“Remember . . . your Grand Creator.”—ECCLESIASTES 12:1.
1, 2. (a) What advice was Solomon inspired to write to young people? (b) Why should Christians in their 50’s and older also be interested in Solomon’s advice?
JEHOVAH inspired King Solomon to tell young people: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come.” What are “the days of distress”? This expression refers to old age. Solomon used poetic words to describe the difficulties older ones have: trembling hands, unsteady legs, loss of teeth, poor eyesight, poor hearing, white hair, and a bent and stiff body. No wonder Solomon told us to remember our Grand Creator while we are young!—Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-5.
2 Many Christians in their 50’s and older still have a lot of energy. They may have some gray hair, but they probably do not have all the health problems that Solomon described. Could these experienced Christians also apply Solomon’s advice to young people: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator”? First of all, what does that advice mean?
3. What does it mean to remember our Grand Creator?
3 You may have been serving Jehovah for many years, but it is good from time to time to stop and think about how grand our Creator is. Life is a remarkable gift. The design of creation is so complex that we cannot fully understand it. The variety of wonderful things that Jehovah made makes it possible for us to enjoy life in an endless number of ways. When we meditate on Jehovah’s creation, we remind ourselves of how loving, wise, and powerful he is. (Psalm 143:5) When we remember our Grand Creator, it also means that we remember what he requires of us. Meditating on all these things motivates us to show our thankfulness by doing all we can in his service for as long as we live.—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES WHEN WE ARE OLDER
4. What can Christians with many years of experience ask themselves, and why?
4 If you have many years of experience, ask yourself, ‘What will I do with my life now while I still have some energy and strength?’ As an experienced Christian, you have opportunities that others do not have. For example, you can teach younger ones what you have learned from Jehovah. You can share with others the wonderful experiences you have had serving God. King David prayed for opportunities to do this. He wrote: “O God, you have taught me from my youth . . . Even when I am old and gray, O God, do not abandon me. Let me tell the next generation about your power and about your mightiness to all those who are to come.”—Psalm 71:17, 18.
As an experienced Christian, you have opportunities that others do not have
5. How can older Christians share what they have learned with others?
5 How can you share the wisdom that you have gained over the years? Can you invite younger ones to your home to enjoy encouraging association? Can you plan to preach with them and allow them to see the joy that you have in serving Jehovah? Elihu said: “Let age speak, and let a multitude of years declare wisdom.” (Job 32:7) The apostle Paul told experienced Christian women to encourage others by their words and by their example. He wrote: “Let the older women be . . . teachers of what is good.”—Titus 2:3.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP OTHERS
6. Why are Christians with many years of experience needed?
6 If you are an experienced Christian, there is much you can do to help others. Think about what you understand now that you did not know 30 or 40 years ago. You know how to apply Bible principles in a variety of situations in life. You have the ability to touch the hearts of others with Bible truth. If you are an elder, you know how to help brothers who have made unwise decisions. (Galatians 6:1) Perhaps you have learned how to oversee congregation activities, assembly departments, or Kingdom Hall construction. You may know how to encourage doctors to use methods that do not require blood when they operate. Even if you are newly baptized, you have gained valuable experience in life. For example, if you have raised children, you have developed skills that are very useful. Older Christians have the ability to be valuable to Jehovah’s people by teaching, guiding, and encouraging the brothers and sisters.—Read Job 12:12.
7. What useful training can older ones give to younger ones?
7 In what other ways can you use your abilities to help others? Perhaps you can show younger ones how to start and conduct Bible studies. If you are a sister, can you help young mothers learn to balance their service to Jehovah while caring for small children? If you are a brother, can you teach young brothers to give talks with enthusiasm and to be better preachers of the good news? Can you show them how you encourage elderly brothers and sisters when you visit them? Even if you do not have the strength you used to have, you still have wonderful opportunities to train younger ones. The Bible says: “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”—Proverbs 20:29.
SERVING WHERE THE NEED IS GREATER
8. What did the apostle Paul do as he got older?
8 The apostle Paul stayed very busy in Jehovah’s service even as he got older. By the time he was released from prison in Rome about the year 61, he had already worked very hard and endured many trials as a missionary. He could have chosen to have an easier life by preaching in Rome. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) The brothers in Rome would certainly have loved for Paul to stay and support them. But Paul saw that the need was even greater in other countries. Along with Timothy and Titus, he traveled to Ephesus, then to Crete, and probably to Macedonia. (1 Timothy 1:3; Titus 1:5) We do not know if he visited Spain, but he did plan on going there.—Romans 15:24, 28.
9. When did Peter move to serve where the need was greater? (See opening picture.)
9 The apostle Peter may have been over the age of 50 when he moved to where the need was greater. How do we know? If he was about the same age as Jesus or a little older, it would mean that he was about 50 years old when he met with the other apostles in Jerusalem in the year 49. (Acts 15:7) Some time after that meeting, Peter went to live in Babylon, likely to preach to the many Jews who lived in that area. (Galatians 2:9) He was living there when he wrote his first inspired letter, about the year 62. (1 Peter 5:13) Moving to where the need is greater can be challenging, but Peter did not allow his age to keep him from experiencing the joy of serving Jehovah fully.
Peter did not allow his age to keep him from experiencing the joy of serving Jehovah fully
10, 11. What did Robert and his wife do later in life?
10 Today, many Christians in their 50’s and older find that their circumstances have changed and that they are able to serve Jehovah in new ways. Some have moved to where the need is greater. This is what Robert and his wife did. They were about 55 when they realized that they had many new opportunities to serve Jehovah. Their only son had moved away from home, and they no longer had to care for their aging parents. They had received a small inheritance and realized that if they sold their house, they could pay off their debt and have enough money until Robert received his retirement pension. They heard that many people in Bolivia were accepting Bible studies and that it was cheaper to live there. So they decided to move. Robert says: “Adapting to our new home was not easy. Everything was so different from what we were accustomed to in North America. But our efforts were well rewarded.”
11 Robert adds: “Our whole life now revolves around congregation activities. Some of the people with whom we studied the Bible got baptized. One family we studied with lives in humble circumstances in a village several miles away. But each week, the members of that family make the difficult journey into town for the meetings. Can you imagine our joy at seeing the family’s progress and the eldest boy even taking up the pioneer service?”
THE NEED IN FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FIELDS
12, 13. After Brian retired, what did he and his wife do?
12 Foreign-language congregations and groups can benefit greatly from the example of older brothers and sisters. Also, such territory can be very enjoyable to work. For example, Brian from Britain wrote that after he retired at the age of 65, he and his wife felt that life had become dull. He said: “Our children had left home, and we rarely found interested people with whom we could conduct Bible studies. Then I met a young Chinese man who was doing research at the local university. He accepted an invitation to our meeting, and I started studying the Bible with him. After a few weeks, he began bringing a Chinese colleague with him. Two weeks later, he brought a third, and then a fourth.
13 “About the time a fifth Chinese researcher asked for a Bible study, I thought, ‘Just because I am 65 does not mean that I should retire from Jehovah’s service.’ So I asked my wife, who is two years younger than I am, if she would like to learn Chinese. We used a recorded language course. That was ten years ago. Preaching in a foreign-language field made us feel young again. So far, we have studied the Bible with 112 Chinese people! Most of them have attended meetings. One of them now serves with us as a pioneer.”
ENJOY DOING WHAT YOU CAN
14. What should older Christians not forget? How can Paul’s example encourage them?
14 Not all Christians in their 50’s have the circumstances to do new things in Jehovah’s service. Some have poor health, and others care for children or aging parents. But do not forget that Jehovah values whatever you do in his service. So even if you are sometimes frustrated by what you cannot do, enjoy what you can do. Think of the apostle Paul. For years, he was a prisoner and could not continue his missionary journeys. But whenever people visited him, he spoke to them about the Scriptures and helped them to keep serving God faithfully.—Acts 28:16, 30, 31.
15. Why are elderly Christians truly valuable?
15 Jehovah also truly values what elderly ones can do to serve him. Solomon admits that “the days of distress” are not the easiest time in life. But the Bible reminds us that Jehovah notices what elderly Christians do to praise him. (Luke 21:2-4) Congregations cherish the beautiful example of faith and endurance that these older brothers and sisters show.
16. What opportunities were probably not available to Anna, but what could she do to worship God?
16 In the Bible, we read of a faithful older woman named Anna. She was an 84-year-old widow when Jesus was born. Because of her age, she did not have the same opportunities to serve Jehovah that others had. She would not likely be able to become a disciple of Jesus, to be anointed with holy spirit, or to go preaching. But she did enjoy serving Jehovah in other ways. For example, every morning and evening she would go to the courtyard of the temple and pray silently for about half an hour while the priest offered incense to Jehovah. The Bible says that “she was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day.” (Luke 2:36, 37) It was during one of those visits to the temple that she saw the young child Jesus. She told everyone that he would become the Messiah and bring freedom to Jerusalem.—Luke 2:38.
17. How might the congregation help Christians who are elderly or sick to share in true worship?
17 Today, we should look for ways to help brothers and sisters who are elderly or sick. There are many older ones who would love to be with us at meetings or assemblies but who are not able to attend. How can the congregation help? In some places, it may be possible to arrange for them to listen to the meetings by telephone. In other places, this may not be possible. Even if older ones cannot go to meetings, they can still share in supporting true worship. For example, they can pray for the success of the congregation.—Read Psalm 92:13, 14.
18, 19. (a) How can elderly Christians encourage others? (b) Who can apply the counsel: “Remember . . . your Grand Creator”?
18 Elderly Christians may not realize how much they encourage others. Think of Anna, who faithfully went to the temple for many years. She probably did not realize that her example and love for Jehovah would be included in the Bible and would still be encouraging us today. In a similar way, your love for Jehovah will never be forgotten by your brothers and sisters. No wonder God’s Word says: “Gray hair is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness”!—Proverbs 16:31.
Your love for Jehovah will never be forgotten by your brothers and sisters
19 There are limits to what all of us can do in Jehovah’s service. But while you still have some strength and energy, be determined to “remember . . . your Grand Creator . . . before the days of distress come.”—Ecclesiastes 12:1.