Growing Old Gracefully by David Ng

I was probably 13 or 14 years old when I first heard the Beatles song, “When I am sixty-four.” I wondered then, likely with a chill down my spine, what would it be like losing my hair, and if people would still love me when I am sixty-four.

Having seen many “old” people being mistreated and/or left alone by their families, I have come to understand that whether I am loved or not, or the kind of situation I will be in, is not so much dependent on the charity and goodwill of people, but largely on what I do and how I behave, when I am with them. And not only when with people but also when I am alone, because you cannot turn on or off your good side at will. In other words, it is what you are, your character.

What kind of character should we have so people will love us whether we are sixty-four or ninety-five? It is one that reflects the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Make no mistake, you cannot develop this on your own strength, this is a gift from the Spirit when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, which we receive by faith. But faith and obedience go hand in hand, and as we live in obedience to His commands, the fruit grows, not in equal proportions in all nine virtues, but certainly in all nine.

For example, Jesus commanded that we love one another in John 13:34 and when we obey, easier said than done I agree, but it is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit, we grow this virtue. When we are able to love people around us despite what they are, it becomes easier for them to love us in return.

The Holy Spirit’s transforming power in a person’s life, produces a harvest of ethical characteristics that cover a threefold relationship: (1) with God (love, joy, peace); (2) with other people, be they family, fellow believers, friends, or people we need to interact with (patience, kindness, goodness); and (3) with oneself (faithfulness, gentleness, self-control).

While having the fruit of the Spirit is one sure way of knowing you are a true Christ believer, it also ensures people around you will continue to love you, regardless what age you are. Equally important, you will be better able to live with yourself.

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