My three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter were playing in the living room. The toys from their little toy box were strewn all over the floor and under every piece of furniture in the usual minefield fashion. The toy box was turned upside down and the kids were taking turns jumping off of it. As I watched them to make sure no bones were being broken, it struck me just how much my daughter was able to keep up with her big brother. When he was her age, he wasn’t nearly as daring. But the only reason she could keep up with him was because he was setting an example. He was pushing her, sometimes literally, to do what he was doing as well and as fast as he was doing it.
Christians, this is a precious picture of what it should be like in the family of God.
Oftentimes it seems that there is a disconnect between the older and younger generations of Christians. The older Christians are disappointed that the younger Christians haven’t reached the same level of devotion or spiritual discipline as themselves, and the younger Christians are eager to point out the shortcomings and inconsistencies of older Christians. Rather than brotherly love flowing in the pews, we often see Christians playing out the dynamics of a dysfunctional family.
At this point, I want to point out that “older Christian” and “younger Christian” does not necessarily point to their actual age. An eighty-year-old who has only just become a follower of Christ is not necessarily going to be as spiritually mature as a twenty-five-year-old who has been a Christian for a decade. In this case, the eighty-year-old is a “younger” Christian than the twenty-five-year-old.
So, older Christians, when you see a younger believer lacking in discipline, it should feel like a rebuke to you. They need their older siblings in Christ to push them and encourage them to greater lengths in the Christian life. Instead of watching them with smug judgment, reach out and disciple them. Show them what it looks like to have walked with the Lord for years. Allow His influence in your life to overflow into theirs. Search your heart and be sure that the example you are setting for them is a godly one unclouded by the distractions of the world.
Younger Christians, no matter how old you are you should be seeking out the company of your older brothers and sisters. They have been on this path longer than you, and their knowledge of the Word of God is beyond yours. Listen to them when they speak, and understand that while they have faults God has put them in your life to help you. To ignore them or treat them with contempt is to dishonor God.
As a father, it brings me great joy to see my son teach his sister how to play, sing, dance, build towers with blocks, and laugh when they fall. In the same way, I can’t help but think that God feels joy when He sees His older children taking their younger siblings by the hand and teaching them His ways.
Editor's Note: This originally appeared here on Engage Magazine's website.