Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Kent Heaton

There is an old saying that suggests you cannot teach an old dog a new trick. When it comes to old hound dogs it may be quite difficult to train them anew as you can a young pup. Old dogs get set in their ways and sometimes their minds just can't accept a new change. They would rather accept life as it is and let life go by in whatever hurried pace it wants. Inactivity is the best activity for the whole day in the midst of a cool breeze and a spot of sunlight. Old dogs just act that way. This affliction of old dogs can sometimes be found in the human breed of animals when a certain age is attained and the desire to learn something new is viewed with disinterest. Retirement goes beyond a secular world to include most things in life. Often children of God decide at a certain age their work is done and the Lord has nothing more for them to do. It is easier to let the younger folk do the work and the older group will take up their place on the side-lines of life.

Noah was 500 years old when he built the ark and with seven other souls saved the human race from extinction (Genesis 6). Abraham was 75 years old when the Lord put him to work. Imagine being told at that age to move and go to a place that I will show you; and take your 65 year old wife with you (Genesis 12). Moses was 80 years old when he led the people of Israel out of Egypt and for the next forty years guided them through the wilderness (Acts 7:23,30). Did you notice that God called these men because they were busy at the time? David writes in Psalm 71:18, "Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come." Psalm 92:14 exhorts those in "old age" to "still bear fruit." The Lord said the "silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness" (Proverbs 16:31).

In the New Testament the apostle Paul urged Titus to exhort the older men and the old women to be an example of faith and to share their faith with young people. "That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:2-5). There is much work for older men and women to be doing with the younger men and women. Older Christians need to realize the potential of wisdom to impart to others. David reflected in his old age, "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread" (Psalms 37:25). Young people need to hear this type of wisdom to help build their faith and secure the blessings of God. It is vital to teach young people to show respect and honor to the older. "You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:32). Learning from older Christians should help them make better decisions in life. You may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks but thankfully we are not dogs and we can learn even till the day we die. 2 Peter 3:18 is not age restricted.