Three years ago I met a woman who would have a dramatic impact on my life and my walk with Christ. We met while serving alongside each other, putting food on plates for hungry people in Oildale, a community in Bakersfield. While I didn’t say much to her that first night, I witnessed a woman who allowed Jesus to shine through her. She had a smile and a kind word for every person who passed through that line. I watched her praying for people she hardly even knew. That woman’s name is PJ and she has several decades of life on me and much wisdom.
Titus 2:3-5 reads, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” PJ is all that and more, encouraging me in my roles as a wife and mother. She’s demonstrated this by sharing a cup of coffee with me when I lived in Bakersfield (and when I go back to visit), by writing and calling after I moved, “just because,” remembering my daughter at holidays and birthdays, and praying for and with me. She has always shown genuine interest in what I had to say and was always transparent when I asked her about what was going on in her life. I have learned so much from her and she never had to preach at me, her lessons were in her lifestyle and her gentle speech.
The reason I share this woman’s impact upon my life is because I want to encourage the younger generation to learn from those who are spiritually more mature than us. Usually maturity comes with age and so we should seek out fellowship with those who have “been there, done that.” I also share this as an encouragement to older women and men to invest their time in the lives of those younger than them.
There is beauty in how God orchestrates the body of Christ to work together. Two people who have years apart can still come together and find friendship because Christ unites them. Often we get mixed up about what should unite us to another person – our tastes in music, the way we dress, what financial bracket we fall under, or what stage of life we are in. We naturally want to be around other people, “like us.” There is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, if it occurs to the exclusivity of your interacting with anybody different than you, then I think there is a problem.
It can become an us-versus-them mentality when it comes to the younger generation and the older generation worshipping together in the same local church. Then we are just modeling our relationship to each other after the world. Are older and younger people different? Most definitely! Yet God has a plan and a purpose for you when you’re 8 and when you’re 80, and we can still encourage each other, no matter what age.
One day, by God’s grace, I will be that older woman mentioned in Titus 2. There is a generation not even born yet that I am called to minister to, so please older men and women leave a legacy of Christ to those who are younger. As Titus 2:7 puts it, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” When generations live in harmony according to the Word of God, encouraging and rebuking with sound doctrine, it honors God’s name!