When someone is acting foolishly, have you ever heard anyone say, “Act your age, not your shoe size?” Of course, this popular slogan would not be much of a rebuke for a nine-year-old! That might be why I remember that when I was a boy, we used to say, “Act your age, not your IQ.” Now that’s a pretty insulting thing to say to a nine-year-old!
While it is important to act your age at any age, it’s even more important for a Christian to act in such a way that is becoming to the truth of God’s Word, as Paul told Timothy to remind older men, saying,
“Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober… temperate…” (Titus 2:1,2).
If aged Christian men want to live in such a way that is becoming to sound doctrine, they must be sober. The only thing sadder than a drunk is an old drunk. Many years ago I used to minister at the Chicago Gospel Mission. I can remember putting my arm around old drunks while speaking to them about the Lord, and thinking how hard it must be to overcome an addiction that would have been more easily conquered earlier in life. What a testimony to the wisdom of Solomon’s admonition, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Eccl. 12:1).
But the word “sober” has another meaning in Scripture. Paul wrote the Romans,
“I say… to every man… not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly” (Rom. 12:3).
Do you see how that verse defines the word “sober” as not thinking too highly of yourself?
If you’re wondering why Paul would have to say this to aged men, it is because some of them are like King Nebuchadnezzar, who got to the end of his life and said,
“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power…?” (Daniel 4:30).
Similarly, some aged men look back at their lives and think, “Wasn’t I something? Look at all that I accomplished in my life!” But that’s not thinking soberly. It’s thinking more highly of yourself than you ought. And that’s certainly not a fitting way for an aged Christian man to think.
Paul also says that aged men should be “temperate,” a word that means moderate. It is related to the word temper, of course, a word that we always associate with anger. But anger is what happens when you lose your temper. Your temper is the calm, moderate way in which we are all supposed to look at things without losing our temper.
Why would aged men need to be told to be temperate? Well, not all aged men can look back at their lives and think highly of themselves because of what they accomplished. Some look back and get angry that they didn’t accomplish more in their lives. If you know any angry old men, that might be why. But Paul says that aged men should be temperate instead.
That’s because if you’re an aged Christian man, you’ve accomplished more in life than you think. In speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ where your Christian life will be judged, Paul wrote,
“…judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come… then shall every man have praise of God” (I Corinthians 4:5).
When the Lord comes, all believers will have praise of God when their lives are reviewed. So in the meantime, don’t be looking back at your life and judging yourself to be a failure, and getting angry about what you think you didn’t accomplish in life. According to that verse, you have accomplished a praiseworthy amount of things in the eyes of God, no matter what age you might be. You have His Word on it!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.