Yesterday I called my uncle, it was his birthday. He turned 82. I’ve been close to my uncle my whole life and even as an adult still refer to him as my uncle, even though most of my cousins now refer to him by his first name. Am I odd to continue this tradition of titles and reverential respect to a family member who is older than me? The egalitarianism of today would say, “yes,” but the Bible says otherwise:
You shall stand up before the grey head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (Lev 19:32)
Here the respect of those older than you, particularly the elderly, is commanded. Why (other than God said so)? While Jewish commentators interpret this law very literally there are even deeper principles present here. Progressing toward the ultimate truth, here are some possibilities:
1. We ought to honour the wisdom of the aged (Job 12:12). While this may be often the case there are many examples of elderly people who are as immature as a young person (or more!). This cannot be the complete reason.
2. We are to honour them because they have gone before us, that is they existed long before we were born and experienced life long before we ever did, and all this is a mark of blessing from God. John Gill said,
“And this respect to ancient persons is due to them from younger persons, because of their having been in the world before them, and of their long continuance in it, and because of the favour and honour God has bestowed upon them in granting them long life, as also because of the experience, knowledge, and wisdom, they may be supposed to have attained unto.”
That we honour them because they preceded us is similar to why we honour our father and mother in the 5th Commandment, because they gave us life.
3. Yet there is a greater reason that many Christians have seen as the root reason that may be found in the words “I am the LORD.” By honouring the aged we honour God who is “the Ancient of days” (Da 7:9, 13, 22; Mic 5:2) who was, is and always will be. He is everlasting and is to be revered above all.
So the next time you think about disrespecting those older than you or hear other who dismiss seniors as irrelevant or unimportant to society, think again and remember Leviticus 19:32 and take care to show respect.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
 Egalitarianism, from the same root as the word equal, suggests that all people, regardless of evident differences, are equal, not only in worth, but in all respects.
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.