Proverbs 20:29 (NKJV)
29 The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head.
Well it’s basketball season. This week Gonzaga played Saint Mary’s and the highlight of the game was watching Gonzaga freshman Elias Harris. Harris had 31 points and 13 rebounds – and a good portion of those points appeared to be accomplished as Harris looked down on the basket rather than up at it. At one point Harris jumped so high the announcer remarked that he appeared to be climbing his opponent’s back.
Harris’ performance was another reminder – as we saw last week – that the glory of young men is their strength. And as we also remarked, Solomon recognizes and celebrates this strength. But the very strength of young men exposes them to a particularly nasty temptation – that of scorning those who no longer possess or who never possessed such strength. As a result of the Fall, those who are strong are prone to despise those who are not. And so the second section of Solomon’s proverb serves as an important reminder to young men that glory comes in various shapes and sizes: The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head.
So young men learn the lesson today: not all glory comes in a shape you can immediately appreciate. Just because something does not strike you as “cool” doesn’t mean that it’s not glorious and wonderful in the eyes of God. An old man has lost the strength he once possessed but he has gained another which is splendid – his grey hair – which you are to esteem because God does. A woman is not typically as physically strong as a man but she has other strengths which are splendid and glorious in the eyes of God. A child is not as strong as a young man but he has other strengths which we have already considered, strengths which display the glory of God and which you are to acknowledge and embrace.
In other words, those whose glory is their strength have a hard time seeing the different type of glory that God has placed in others. God calls all of us to glory in the diversified strengths he has placed in the body. Rather than disparage the weak, we are to honor, respect, and protect them. And young men, you especially need to cultivate this grace of admiring different types of glory. This time in your life is the time when you need to appreciate the silliness of your younger brothers and sisters not scorn it as something you did when you were “young and immature.” This time in your life is the time when you need to learn to respect the strength that God has placed in a woman not dismiss your mother as irrational. This time in your life is the time when you need to honor the grey headed not mock them as holdovers of a by-gone age.
At no time in history have these lessons been more necessary and more challenging. Despite our language of diversity, multi-culturalism, and acceptance, we have become a people intoxicated with the strength of youth. And so young men you are going to have a very challenging time learning these lessons in your youth. But isn’t this what you want? Didn’t you ask for a challenge? Isn’t your glory your strength? Then show it by honoring the different types of glory that God has placed around you.
Reminded that we all are tempted to scorn the different types of glory that God has placed about us, let us kneel and confess our sin to our Father.