The Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8
“I have fought the good fight … I have kept the faith.” (v. 7) RSV
Paul was never less than 100% in whatever he did. As a Pharisee he was more zealous than any of his peers, and as a Christian he put most to shame in his missionary zeal. That is why when in prison and believing that his execution must be near he was able to say, “I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” No doubt he had many regrets and sins, but he knew the Lord had forgiven them.
He was consequently able to look forward with eager longing to his reward. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness … “ (v.8). This reward is not for him only but “also for all who have loved his appearing.” (v.8).
When we reach old age, and perhaps are weak or infirm, we can feel that we are a burden on others and a fairly useless addition to this world. If we have a faith we may long to die and go to be with the Lord which, as St Paul said, is “far better” (Philippians 1:23). But we are in our mortal coil and must continue to rejoice every day. Our very weakness may be an opportunity for others to serve. Our agedness is not our fault. If we can’t hear, can’t remember and repeat ourselves, it is not our fault. It may be extremely humbling, but we must not let it become humiliating.
King David must have been tempted to despise himself when in old age, the beautiful ‘hot water bottle’, Abishag, failed to arouse him (1 Kings 1:3-4). But David could look back over a life of many achievements. His Lord would not abandon him. And then there was Peter. He was told by Jesus that in his old age, “another will gird you and carry you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). Each of the 7 ages has its joys and difficulties. Nevertheless, the Lord is constant and he always teaches us to rejoice.
Lord, grant me to be content, even in old age. Amen.
1 Who in his old age held Jesus in his arms?
2 Who was the oldest man in the Bible?