Temptation to Age: Old, or Older?

by Paul Renfroe – May 27th, 2021

As my 65th birthday approached, my mind suffered the temptation to age.

Our society imposes such meaningless life-points upon us. Age 30 is one; age 65 is another, thanks to Social Security’s initial retirement age. Attitudes and beliefs are prescribed for us at those arbitrary benchmarks—but are they correct? Could they in fact be ungodly beliefs? Does my Creator and Sustainer support those socially endorsed attitudes and beliefs?

Temptation also comes as habits of thinking. It may not begin with the signaling words, “If you are the Son of God,” as it did for Jesus in His recorded wilderness temptation. Habits and expectations are implanted in our beliefs gradually, by our society.

Being older on the clock is true every day of our lives. One May 20th in the past was the last day I was not a person, because on the next day I was born—my DOB. The physiological traits of my body changes as time passes on the clock. A time comes when youthfulness gives way to wisdom. That is also when our bodies reveal their longer years. A day will come when I will no longer get older—the day my body dies, my DOD.

My resident expert on aging, my 6 year old grandson, looked at me and said, “You’re OLD, Pop-Pop!”

But these observable facts do not justify the belief that I must be old. Our social concept of old demands that I think nostalgically, walk stiffly, drive slowly, and talk elderly. Old is not on the clock —old is in the mind.

My beliefs about my age are based on what authority? Who sets the expectations for older years? Society, or family, or my ancestors, or the devil, or even my church? The ungodly expectations are pervasive. But as a Christian I have a higher Lord. His name is Jesus. He bought me at a great price, His blood. He alone has the say-so over my life.

No one can take it from Him—but sadly, I can give someone else say-so. And so I am tempted. My joints are stiff when I get up. Memory of the last few months is not as reliable as memory of fifty years ago. People ask me a question and it can take me an extra split-second to come up with the words I want. These physical changes are facts because I am older. But will I believe that I am old?

My case holds even more accountability. Life-threatening heart surgery was required at my age 50. While I lay in the post-surgical stupor, the Holy Spirit spoke to me very simply, elegantly and unforgettably: “Romans 8:11.” Upon awakening I immediately asked my waiting wife read it to me.

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies by the same Spirit.”

That re-wired all my beliefs about my resources for recuperation. And I went backpacking in the Smokies 11 weeks afterwards.

Belief is what gives facts an ungodly power. Example: to say “I can’t remember!” reveals a predictive, self-cursing belief. The accurate statement is, “I don’t remember.” If we give in to the temptation to age despite these Bible promises and evidences, well, shame on us.

The blood of the Son of God certainly deserves this belief: the Life He gives overwhelms our number of years, physical aches, and social expectations. I can be older without being old.