"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18)

    Can one find among Christians conformity in what we generally regard as young, middle-aged, and old ? How old is old ? When does youth end and old age begin? These questions have no absolute answers. But we will endeavor to discuss the middle age which, in most cases, takes place between the ages of thirty-seven and fifty-two.


    Men and women usually face middle age with concern if not with anxiety and insecurity. During this period most people experience fatigue, nervousness, restlessness, and tension. Temptations seem greater and resistance seems weaker during these middle-age years. Because of this, more people make failures in this span of life than any other age.

    A false idea which has been responsible for much uneasiness in the middle age is the unfounded fear of losing attractiveness and youthful vigor. This is because, in every middle aged person, the physical processes of the body slow down. As a result, they feel they are leaving the prime of life behind.


    Youth is not a time of life . . . it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees . . . it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions . . . it is a freshness of the deep springs of life.

    Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty more than a boy of twenty.

    Nobody grows old merely living a number of years; people grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair . . . these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.
Whether seventy or sixteen, there is in every being's heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars and star-like things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing child- like appetite for what comes next, and the joy of the game of life.

    You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

    In the central place of your heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from men and from the Infinite, just so long are you young.

When the wires are all down and all the central place of your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then are you grown old indeed and may God have mercy on your soul.

    The culture in which we live places great emphasis upon youth and sexual vigor. Newspaper columns on the woman's page continually remind its readers that they are being replaced by up and coming youth. Is it any wonder that many middle-agers face the future with uneasiness and fear?

    There is an emotional basis for our dread for this span (we call the middle age years) of our lives. Let us note some of these emotions and see how they affect our lives. How can God's word be applied to them?  Consider three emotions which usually accompany middle age.


    The last fling at youth is usually hard for people to accept. Among middle-age people, there are many fears which become a constant torment. These fears consist of the dread of losing usefulness for the future, fear of the uncertainty of what tomorrow could bring, the fear of illness and possible permanent disability, the fear of having the home broken up, the fear of the possibility of the bread- winner leaving unprovided for dependents, and the fear that death is near. All this torment because of fear

    But what a wonderful thing it is to know Christ and to know His word. We read in I Timothy 1:7 "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.'9 The Psalmist has said, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee." (Psalm 56:3). And we have the wonderful promise in Isaiah 41:10, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of righteousness." It is a wonderful thing to be able to say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). Even though people may have middle-aged fears, they can have victory over them through Christ.


    Often middle-aged people have jumpy nerves and are very easy to fly off the handle. What does the Bible say about anger? "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." (Eph. 4:26, 27). In other words, don't go to bed angry. If you lose your temper, get over it. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1). If anger harbors itself in your heart, it can cause trouble. It thus leads to resentment. Many middle aged people are miserable because of resentment toward everything and everybody in life.

    What does God's word have to say about resentment? There is a great truth in Romans 14:19 which I consider to be one of God's wonderful promises to help middle-age resentment. It begins like this: "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves." In other words, if some one plays a dirty trick on you, don't try and get even with them. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Isn't that a wonderful promise? God will take care of these things for us. We don't have to get even with people and when we have a resentful spirit toward them, we only harm ourselves.


    The third factor that causes trouble in the middle-age years is that of fatigue. You see, our bodies are like clocks, and if a person is "run down" sometimes they "wind up" in the hospital or mental institution. Seriously, if a person worries over this normal slowing down which accompanies middle age, he takes upon himself burdens never meant for him to bear. Many people help fatigue by just such worry. But we have a wonderful promise from God's word in Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." Listen to and accept the invitation of Christ in Matthew 11:28: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6 :9, "Let us not grow weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."


    At some time in the life of the middle-aged person, the physical processes that began in our bodies during childhood begin to slow down. These changes of function within the body have been commonly called the "change of life." The results of such changes usually are uncomfortable. There is an emotional basis for our dread of this portion of our lives. More important than any glandular changes of this period are the emotional patterns which we have adopted earlier.

    There is a tendency for the middle-aged to imagine that all their own tensions and frustrations are a result of middle age. They pass on from one generation to another old wives' tales about women suffering during this period and men's utter change of character at this time. But if a person has learned earlier how to handle stress in life, and if the other members of the family show kindness and understanding and tend to minimize tensions, there is hope for a satisfactory handling of the problem.

    The married woman has many problems, for a sense of inner loneliness often comes as she is freed *tom the confining duties which have been a part of childbearing. Feelings of rejection may confront her. If she allows herself to be tormented by a mental picture of the misunderstood middle-age woman, she is simply prey for temptation.

    Men are not without their problems and temptations during their middle age. Men's reactions to this period of life are usually attempts, conscious or otherwise, to emphasize their continuing virility. Because of this, many middle-aged men yield to temptation and play the fool. "No fool like an old fool" and "Why doesn't he act his age?" are common criticisms.

    People often meet defeat, most sadly of all, in life's middle age. As we look into the Bible, there are many examples of people who went down to defeat in middle life. There was Sampson, strongest man of all ages and yet, under the wiles of the devil, he went down and his power was gone. "He wist not that the Lord was departed from Him" until he tried to use his strength as before and found himself a weakling, a defeated man. The Psalmist, David, went down in Life's middle time, and if one wants to know how penitent
he was, read the fifty-first Psalm and keep reading it as he voices his cry because of his failures and sins of life's middle age. Solomon failed tragically in life's middle time and so did King Saul. In the Scriptures, the evidences stand out as to how perilous is life's middle time.

    But the opposite is also true. People often reach their greatest triumph during these difficult years. Moses was dominated by his decision to deliver his people from Egyptian bondage in life's middle time. (}no thinks of his successor, Joshua, in life's middle age, taking Moses' mantle and carrying on.

    John Wesley, John Knox, and Martin Luther all achieved their highest during their middle-aged years. Henry Clay made his great utterances on the Missouri compromise in Life's middle time. John Bunyon wrote "Pilgrims Progress' during his crucial middle years. Patrick Henry gave his immortal speech in a critical hour of our country's life, a speech which will echo around the world through al the ages: "I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death l" In life's middle time, that great utterance came. And there are many others whose names could be called who reached the height of success in life's middle age.


    Among middle-aged people, there seems to be a prevalent fear of growing old. If we are emotionally mature, we shall be able to face the fact that our lives are growing old. We shall also know that we have fruitful years ahead of us. If our thoughts are concentrated on creative work we still hope to do, we shall hardly realize that old age is creeping upon us. We cannot call back the last years of youth, but we may be grateful that medical science has lengthened the average life span. For this reason, we have a future for which we may plan. We should live as those who believed that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

    We should try to develop the thought that our lives represent a progression of cycles from infancy to youth, from youth to middle age, and from middle age to old age. Each cycle has its own characteristic experiences. The old man says, "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves." This is true, but whatever emotional maturity and wisdom we have achieved will go with us from one cycle to the next.
We are to seek the right atmosphere in which to live. There is a great deal of homely philosophy in the old adage, "Life is what we make it." A person's surroundings will play an important part in the kind of life he makes. Let us, therefore, seek the Christ-like atmosphere.

    We are to watch against the spirit of cynicism as we find ourselves in life's middle time. Oh! How destructive is the spirit of cynicism! "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." The greatest cynic of all is Satan.

    How shall we avoid defeat in middle age and the fear of growing old ? Christianity is more than creed and ceremony. The Bible must be our pattern of thought, emotion, and action. The Spirit of Christ within us permeates all our relationships and is lived twenty-four hours a day. We should follow the exhortation, "Flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Tim. 2 :22) .


They say that I am growing old,
I've heard them tell it times untold
In language plain and bold—
But I'm not growing old.
This frail old shell in which I dwell
Is growing old, I know full well,
But I'm not growing old!
What if my hair is turning gray?
Gray hair is honorable, they say.
What if my eyesight's growing dim?
I still can see to follow Him
Who sacrificed His life for me
There on the Crown of Calvary
What should I care if Time's old plow
Has dug its furrows in my brow?
Another house, not made with hand,
Awaits me in the Glory Land.
My hearing may not be as keen
As in the past it might have been,
Still I can hear my Saviour say,
"Come, faltering child, this is the way!"
The outward man, do what I can
To lengthen out this life's short span,

A Man Is a Fool Who Comes to the end of His Life Without Having Made Any Preparation for the Next

    Once a king had a court jester of whom he was very fond. He gave him two wands and said to him, "When you find a man who is a greater fool than you, give him one of the wands." After many months the king called his court jester to his bed and said, "I am going on a long journey and I shall not return." The court jester said, "Your honor, I suppose you have made preparation for this journey that you are about to take." "No," was the king's reply, "And that is what is troubling me." The court jester slipped out and went to his room, and in a few minutes returned with one of the wands. "Your Honor," he said, "When you gave me this wand, you asked me to give it to the man whom I think is a greater fool than I. Your Honor, I now present this wand to you for I have made preparation for my journey, and you have not."

    We are only here a short time, but we will be in the next world for eternity. God has given you time and opportunity to prepare for the future. What have you done about it? "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Have you made preparation for this judgment? Have you accepted the provision God has made for you? I expect Jesus Christ to stand for me, because I have trusted him as my personal Saviour, and he has given me an assurance in his Word, and by his Spirit, that he will deliver me from the wrath to come, because my faith is in him, and him alone, for my salvation. In whom or what are you trusting? If it is in anything or person other than Jesus Christ, you are a fool, and will be badly disappointed after it is too late to do anything about it."


    "At this time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

    For Herod had laid hold on John the Baptist, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Phillip's wife.

    And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John the Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry; nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them that sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

    And he sent and beheaded John in prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel; and she brought it to her mother." (Matthew 14 :1-11)

    This Evangelist is more noble than Spurgeon; more effective than Billy Graham; humbler than Hyman Appleman. He preaches night and day. He never compromises, never leans toward modernism, money won't bribe him; he won't sell out. He never takes a vacation. He has preached to all; he never stops; never pronounces his benediction.

    He has swayed kings and ordered nations. He comes back again and again; it's hard to get rid of him! His name is CONSCIENCE.


    One has asked, "What made Adam and Eve hide? What made Cain cry out, 'My punishment is greater than I can bear?' What made Ahab say to Elijah, 'Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?' What made Belshazzar's knees smite and his countenance became pale as death ? What made Felix tremble ? The preaching of a guilty conscience did it.

"My Conscience has a thousand several tongues
And every tongue brings in a tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain,
Perjury, perjury in the first degree
Murder, stem murder in the first degree,
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! Guilty!

(A) Conscience Preached to Herod

    Why did Herod say, "This is John The Baptist" ? When he heard Jesus and saw the miracles, fear gripped his heart. He said, "That's the man I killed; that's the man I killed! Oh, it must be John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! Herod had the torment of a guilty conscience preaching to him.

    Herod, you know, had put John the Baptist in prison.

    John called Herod and his wife sinners. He told them that it was not right to live in adultery. He told Herod that he had no right to steal his brother's wife. Herod said, "I shouldn't do it, and I guess he was right. But," he said, "it made Herodias, my wife, so mad that she swore she would get even. I was afraid to kill him. I didn't want to — I was afraid to. The people said he was a prophet, but my wife hated him."

    So Herodias got Solome her daughter (though the Scripture does not here give her name) to come and dance before Herod. Herod liked that. Tradition has it, she danced without very much clothes. He said, "I'll give you anything you want. What can I give you?" She said, "Wait! I'll go ask Mother." Her mother said, "Give me here John the Baptist's head. And it is said that when John the Baptist's head was cut oh and brought before Herodias, this wicked, wicked woman, this woman who played the harlot and hated John because he preached about it or had warned Herod about it — I say it is said that she took a bodkin, a large pin, ran it through his tongue and said, "I am even with you at last!" She hated this preacher who preached against her sin.

    But Herodias said, "I wish I hadn't done it!" And when John the Baptist's body was buried, Herod's heart condemned him. He thought about it all the time. When somebody came and asked, "What's happening over in Judea?  A man over there preaches and raises the dead," Herod said, "I know it! That's John the Baptist. It's the man I killed, raised from the dead! I have to face him yet!" Herod's guilty conscience!

(B) Conscience Preached to Judas

    Notice how conscience preached to Judas. He was never converted. I guess many times he thought he would be. You know how Satan entered into him and he went away and sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He led the mob to the Gethsemane Garden, and there under an old olive tree he kissed the cheek of Jesus and said, "This is the one." They took Him and bound Him. With a traitor's kiss on His cheek, Judas sold Him. Judas took those thirty pieces of silver, but some way they did not seem right; they burned in his pocket, and his conscience began to smite him. It was like an evil dream that would not down. 'I've betrayed innocent blood.' He brought that money back and said, "Trade back. Turn Jesus loose. I ought not to have done it." They said, 'See thou to that. We got what we wanted.' And Judas cast that bit of money, those thirty pieces of silver down on the stone floor. I can hear them ring out as they rolled across the floor. Then Judas went out and hanged himself. Oh! he was tormented by this sermon preached by his guilty conscience.

    In I Timothy 4:1-2 we read, "That in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." In other words, there will be men in the last days whose consciences are without feeling.

    "Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." (Eph. 4:19.)

    Here is a picture of the man who walks through the world without God. Allowing himself to be blinded to the truth and walking according to the vanity of his own mind; he has sold out to sin. Paul says, "given themselves over" to sin, which means the same thing.

    What an indictment against man! Yet, every word of it is true. Any man who resists God and walks after the desires of his own flesh will wind up wallowing in the mire of his own iniquity. Sadder still is the result of this wholesale sell-out to sin; namely a hardened heart and a deadened conscience which leaves such a man, as Paul says, "Past feeling."

    Without feeling! A conscience stifled by years of sin! "Impossible;" you say, "No one could get so low in sin and so far from God that he would be past feeling."

    There are many reasons why sinners reach the place where they are past feeling. I shall mention just a few. In the first place, this condition is often caused by a long period of empty profession of salvation. Nothing has a more deadening effect upon a man's soul than hypocrisy. To profess constantly to have something one does not possess is to smear one's character and conscience with lies. Lies heaped upon lies over a period of years will throttle the voice of any man's conscience and leave it destitute of feeling. To such a man I would recall God's warning in Proverbs 29:1, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

    Prejudice has also hardened the heart of many people. Some sinners insist upon taking for their example some weak flattering Christian or some hypocrite in the church. They point with disdain to such persons and say, "If that is Christianity, I want none of it." To say the last, such an attitude is not honest. It is pure prejudice. It is sheer folly to renounce Christ merely because some professing follower of His has dragged His blessed name into the dirt. This will certainly lead to a seared conscience.

    The pleasure of this world are still another weapon in the hands of Satan to stifle the consciences of men. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower in the fourth chapter of Mark He described one kind of seed as falling among thorns. The thorns, He said, are the cares of this world which choke the seed so that it bears no fruit. Sinful pleasures do more than choke. They rob. Solomon said, "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man." Sordid pleasures rob of time, health, money, honesty, virtue, modesty, manhood, conscience and, finally the very soul of man. Let me warn you of the deceitful deadening pleasures of sin. Remember, the pleasures of sin will sear your conscience.


    Sinner, conscience is bad enough here, but think of how biting, gnawing, burning, condemning, tormenting, it will be in Hell. Conscience will set up his pulpit in Hell. And if there were no fire in Hell, (but there is) if there was only a guilty conscience, what a Hell it would be! If there were not the eternal loneliness; if there were not the burning of unsatisfied longings; if there were not the separation from all that is holy and good; if there were not the eternal frustration and the eternal missing of all the good things bile wants; if it were not for the awful restlessness, yet what about the conscience that preaches his burning unending sermons. If always a man knew, "I sinned; I have sinned; I have sinned against innocence; I have sinned against love. I heard the invitation and turned it down. God loved me! Jesus died for me; my mother prayed for me; I knew better, but I went on in sin. Can you imagine such torment in Hell?

    Do you think Judas got away from his conscience because he went to Hell, or because he died? No, no! Not when he hanged himself, not when his body hung by a rope over the cliff, then sagged, finally broke and fell down and burst open. Judas went to Hell. Do you think his conscience forsook him then? No, down in Hell this man says, "I have sinned against innocent blood. I was guilty. I ought not to have done it. Oh, I wish I hadn't traded!" Down in Hell, his conscience preaches on and on.

    Thank God for the cleansing blood that not only can save a soul, but can wash away the stain and guilt of a burning conscience. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Will you come to Him now? Will you trust Him?

Maze Jackson