Aging is a universal part of life. The Bible often associates growing old with gaining wisdom. For example, Proverbs 16:31 says, "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life." The Bible also reminds us that even if we live a relatively long life, life on earth is short: "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).
What is a biblical perspective on aging / growing old?
Solomon frequently references aging in Ecclesiastes as he uncovers the meaning of life. He unpacks the pointlessness of living for the moment and trying to fulfill our deepest desires with the things of this world in Ecclesiastes 1—7. As we age, our desire to leave a legacy—to establish some way of people remembering us after we die—tends to grow. As it does, oddly, so does our realization of the futility of such a campaign. If toiling "under the sun" only to be forgotten was all life was, it would seem pointless indeed.
But that is not all that life, or aging, is. God seeks our attention, devotion, and desire. In God, life and the process of aging, has great meaning and importance. Solomon advises, "In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him" (Ecclesiastes 7:14). Our lives are in God's hand, and every season of our lives has purpose in Him (Romans 8:28–29).
Solomon counsels an increasing wisdom and use of what God has blessed each person with (Ecclesiastes 8—12). Rather than worry about aging, we are to understand our earthly lives for what they are and live them well. Solomon talks about the difference between our time on earth and eternity, the brevity of life, and the seeming indifference of justice in this life (Ecclesiastes 3:15–17; 8:5–8, 12–15; 9:11–12; 11:9; 12:14).
Jesus referenced similar ideas when He told the parables of the ten virgins and the talents (Matthew 25). We will be accountable for what God has bestowed upon us and asked of us. Moses prayed, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Recognizing that life is short and wanting to live our lives fully for God helps us to embrace the process of aging and grow old gracefully.
Solomon wrote, "He who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:4–6, see also 9:7–10; 11:9—12:7). While we are still alive, we still have opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. For those who are in Christ, we know that death will bring us into God's presence (2 Corinthians 5:8). But we also know that our lives are in His hands; if He has seen fit to extend our days of life, we have that many more days to serve Him here (2 Corinthians 5:9; Philippians 1:18–26). We can be grateful for all the days God gives us.
Growing old is meaningful, and even joyous, when we realize and accept God's greatest bestowment to us: His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16). When we do, we can look forward to our eternal inheritance while gratefully living out our earthly purpose (Ephesians 2:10), all the while drawing closer to God and being transformed in righteousness (Romans 8:28–29).
Is there any way to guarantee ourselves a long life on earth?
Can Christians have their best life now?
How should our identity in Christ affect the way we live?
Does the Bible give a human age limit?
What does the Bible teach about hope?
Truth about Humanity