This message is not only for today’s elders but also for those who will become elders tomorrow as well. This is because the young of today shall become the old of tomorrow if Christ tarries.
Psalm 37:25 – I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
Who is an elder?
The dictionaries define elder as “one who is older; an aged person; one who has authority by virtue of age and experience”.
In RCCG UK, elders are generally from 50 years, parishes are however allowed discretion based on their congregational demography. Of course, the pastors are included regardless of their age.
In almost every society, respect and honour is usually given to elders. This is so because they have come to the world before the young; and they would have probably experienced what the young have not; and may well later experience.
Dt. 32:7 – Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
In many societies, it is believed that what elders says do come to pass; such that prayers and curses from their mouth are taken seriously. When that elder is a blood relation, the potency of such prayer or curse is even heightened.
Gen. 27:30-38 (Esau was crying because he knew the significance and consequence of what he has missed).
The Bible tells us that when Joseph introduced his father (Jacob) to the Pharaoh ruling during his time, Jacob been an elder and a prophet had to pray for Pharaoh who was the reigning king (Gen. 47:7-10).
The term elder is very ancient, and it’s still prevalent in most societies of today. For example, they were recognised in ancient Egypt and ancient Israel.
Gen. 50:1-7 (elders of Egypt)
Judges 11:5 (elders of Gilead)
Elders have always occupied an exalted place in societies. They are known to be the custodian of wisdom; possessors of hindsight, insight and foresight; and they command respect.
Num. 22:7 (Elders of Moab and Midian came to Balaam).
In our societies today, inside buses, trains and tubes, there are designated seating areas reserved for elders and the disabled. Such is the respect, honour and authority that elders possess.
While this privilege is vested upon elders. Some have however misused it instead of making the best use of it.
The Bible tells us how Queen Jezebel organised the death of Naboth. It was sad to know that it was the elders and the nobles of his city that used their position of honour and authority to facilitate Naboth’s death (I Kings 21:8-14).
It is equally sad to also know that everyone over the age of 20 years that left the bondage in Egypt (except Caleb, Joshua and the Levites) died in the wilderness because of the unbelief of just 10 elders.
Num. 14: 22-24 – Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I swore unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went; and his seed shall possess it.
Num. 14:31-33 – But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
When God had settled Israelites in Canaan, He would always raise a judge that led them to battle whenever the need arose. It got to a time, that the elders took law into their own hands and instructed Prophet Samuel to give them a king like other nations around them. They made God angry.
I Sam. 8:4-5 – Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
So, the position of an elder is very delicate, yet very crucial and very influential. That influence must be used positively. Paul was telling Timothy:
I Tim. 5:17 – Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Paul the apostle also wrote a letter to Titus, his spiritual son, to look out for certain attributes before appointing elders and bishop to the churches under him. For us to rule well as elders, we want to consider some characteristics that a good elder must have:
1. Elders that say the truth even in daring circumstances.
I Kings 12:1-20 (Rehoboam counsellors)
2. Elders that hold unto the word of God and also boost the faith of others.
Num. 14:6-9 (Caleb & Joshua)
3. Elders who are competent in what they do; who fear God; say the truth and hate covetousness.
Ex. 18:19-22 (Jethro)
4. Elders who are willing to learn, not minding if it’s even from a younger fellow.
John 3:1-12 (Nicodemus).
5. Elders who cooperate with their leader and defend him.
2 Kings 6:30-33 (Elisha assassination order by king Jehoram resisted by elders).
6. Elders that don’t get involved in coup plot against another fellow.
John 7:45-53 (Nicodemus) – Nicodemus with Joseph Arimathea asked for Jesus corpse and did burial.
7. Elders that prays for the sick and sinner.
8. Elders that sigh and cry against abominations done in the land and in Christendom.
9. Elders that are never tired of worshipping God.
10. Elders that support and sell the vision of God.
11. Elders that are willing and eager to serve and are not been chased around to do so.
I Peter 5:1-4
12. Elders of good report and reputation in the public.
I Tim. 3:7
13. Elders who have one spouse, and who are training their children in the way of the Lord.
14. Elders who are not easily angered nor lose their temper.
15. Elders who are hospitable, sober, just, holy, self-disciplined, scripturally sound, and don’t entertain heretics.
Titus 1: 8-9
Father, thank you for making me an elder. Father, let me become an elder if Christ tarried.
Father, let the spirit of excellence rest on me.
Father, make me an elder with a difference.
The sermon was delivered on June 23, 2019, on the occasion of 2019 Elders Service.