Older Influencing Younger
This past Sunday I had the delightful privilege of speaking to our Young Marrieds on the subject of “Older Influencing Younger” as a biblical norm. I was thrilled to see approximately 12 couples, married 8 years or less, gathered in a square to consider the principles in Titus 2:1-2. As I looked at the group, I was blessed to think of the years of faithful service to Jesus Christ that are represented by these precious couples. My desire for them is that they would have every advantage and opportunity to be all that God would have them to be — serving Christ together as couples in dynamic, fruitful ministry in the church.
The shortest route to this being true in the lives of these young couples is for them to look at the description in God’s Word of who they should be when they grow older. What characteristics would they like to see prevail when they are in their 40’s, 50’s and beyond? Obviously, the best way to achieve such progress is to be deliberate in seeing those characteristics formed, established, and matured as they grow in grace. One of God’s prescriptions for this process is for younger people to be influenced by older people — so that their lives will display sound doctrine and practical integrity. In the pursuit of these things, I encouraged our young couples to “AGE” gracefully - as follows:
- A: Aspire to Possess Integrity — Look for older people whose lives possess integrity; that is, their practice represents a “fleshing out” of what the Bible teaches. The emphasis here is on what these people are, not merely on what they do. It is the observation of spiritual power and integrity that informs their behavior. This is the opposite of “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” It is the practice of consistently applying God’s Word to life — not merely talking about what should be, but being what should be. This is the heart of the young person that desires to be distinct from the worldly wise man and aspires to possess integrity. Looking for older men and women who can provide examples of this is helpful and then seeking to “pick their brains” to discover how you can possess the same kind of integrity. This is huge!
- G: Grapple to Prioritize Integrity — There are many obstacles to the possession of spiritual integrity. So many competitors exist to our simple faith and resultant faithfulness to Jesus Christ. The struggle that we face is a serious one — one in which having successful people who help us grapple to prioritize integrity is crucial. There are three characteristics that Paul provides to Titus with which we must grapple to be:
- Temperate — a level-headed person who is not “under the influence” of things that draw us away from godliness and Spirit-filled living
- Dignified — a person who takes the purposes of God seriously and evokes special respect in their effective application of truth
- Sensible — a person who has the ability to curb desires and impulses to respond properly, allowing consistent surrender to truth
- E: Engage in Proving Integrity — Finding someone who is older and more experienced in the faith to assist you in consistent obedience to God’s Word is a key step in the ability to prove the presence of integrity. Younger people often need assistance in fulfilling the following:
- … being sound in faith — having a “clean” or “hygienic” faith, one that is without alloy. This characteristic is essential in proving the integrity that a person has before both God and men. Having the ability to place confidence in God is an absolute requirement for a genuine faith.
- … being sound in love — having the ability to put the welfare of others first. Not selfishly looking out for your own interests, but instead on the interests of others is not something that is natural. Having older, more mature believers around us to help hold us accountable for this is crucial.
- … being sound in perseverance — We will all stumble and fall. Yet when we are in a relationship with stronger, more mature believers we are able to recover far more quickly and effectively. This enables us to “keep on keeping on!”
What godly, younger believer would not desire to have these kinds of influences helping to establish their walk with Christ. Don’t wait for older people to approach you, but seek them out as wise young people allowing God’s intentions to be fleshed out through your life.