The longer I walk this earth, the more people I find that I can refer to as “old friends”. Usually when I refer to someone as an old friend, I mean that he or she has been friends with me for a long time. (In my case, that in itself can be quite an accomplishment, since I’m not the easiest person to befriend, some days.)
In addition, there are friends who I could theoretically refer to as “old friends” because they are advanced in age; that is, they have walked this earth for a long time. Having said that, I do not suggest that you call anyone an old friend in that sense, lest you quickly find them becoming an enemy, instead!
My friends who are older – whether in years of life, experience in a specific skill, or just a maturity of their soul – are especially valuable to me. They offer insight and wisdom that can only be found through the seasoning and growth that requires time.
The Bible speaks well of people like this, at least in the way that I interpret the following proverb:
Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained by living a godly life.
Proverbs 16:31 NLT
See also Psalm 92:12-15, and Leviticus 19:32. (I realize that many readers don’t look up verses, but if you miss these two passages, I personally think that you’re missing out on some great life advice.)
Note that age is best paired with righteousness. As manifested in some parts of my own life, I’m afraid, time in itself doesn’t always lead to maturity.
Sometimes we need “old friends”, whose wisdom has been cultivated, pruned, and strengthened by time, as well as by the joys and storms of life. In particular, who better to counsel us than those who have walked with Jesus for decades, and watched (or experienced) what happens both on and off of the path that He has set out for us?
As a result, if you haven’t reached the epitome of your Christian walk, and you realize that you have more to learn (which is the first step, after all), seek out those who have learned life’s lessons, and ask them for advice. You can sit with them and ask for their suggestions on something specific in your own life, or just walk with them and talk about what they have experienced, along with the lessons they have learned.
And, if you have already learned some lessons in life (whether you are considered young or old), don’t be afraid to share. Being obnoxious or bossy generally doesn’t help wisdom “stick”, but telling others about your own experiences (while giving them the courtesy of listening to theirs, in turn) can save them from going through hardship that you’ve already experienced (and learned from). Don’t think that your experiences are irrelevant – environments, technology, and trends may change, but lessons about the important parts of life are timeless.
Or, if you have the privilege – like I do – to know those both farther along and farther back than yourself in the walk of life, you can not only both learn and share, but even serve as a facilitator, making introductions of those with wisdom to those who need counsel, “connecting the dots” for the good of all parties involved.
Finally, if you really, really need to know the right answer, and even your mature friends don’t have all of the solutions or – in their humanity – are providing conflicting answers, don’t forget that there is One who is wiser than all of us. Jesus is an “old friend” in the fact that has been around since the beginning of time. (Should you have any friends older than that, be sure to send them a card on their birthday!)
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
John 1:1-3 NLT
Jesus’ wisdom surpasses even the most seasoned of our friends, and He is never too busy to talk with us. God’s wisdom is available for the asking (see James 1:5-6), and is even better than the Internet!
May you both learn from others, and share that accumulated wisdom with the next generation. You can have “old friends”, and be one, too!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.