22Pay attention to your father,
and don't neglect your mother
when she grows old.
23Invest in truth and wisdom,
discipline and good sense,
and don't part with them.
24Make your father truly happy
by living right and showing
25Make your parents proud,
especially your mother.
“Do not trust anyone over 30.” This opinion surrounded me when I was young. We were confident we could remake the world and do a “better job” than our elders had done. It is closer to the truth that we made many mistakes the older generation warned us about, but we refused to listen. We had to learn the hard way. Most parents (and elders who genuinely care) want to spare their children and other younger folk unnecessary pain. Saving for the future and not outspending our income are just two pieces of advice that many have failed to heed with sorrowful consequences.
We do not trumpet our mistrust of elders anymore, but there is widespread ignorance of their counsel and sometimes patronizing dismissal. Many parents age with little support from their children. Their loneliness is noticeable. These proverbs direct us not to neglect them. Moses urged people to “respect your father and your mother” and attached a promise: “you will live a long time in the land I am giving you” (Exodus 20:12). Intergenerational harmony leads to healthy living.
So we care for our elders. We also heed their words of advice. Are they always right? No, but they have learned more about navigating this complicated thing called life than we have. And they care for us. We are wise to learn from their hard won lessons. The volume of phone calls on Mothers’ Day tells us how much affection most have for their Moms. Good! We can go further, however, and make our parents proud by applying in our lives the wisdom they teach us. But first we need to “pay attention.”
God of the ages, who persists in holding wisdom before us, open our hearts to learn from your Word and the generation matured by the school of hard knocks, so we may together dwell in healthy, harmonious and long life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.