“Timeless: Wisdom That Outlives You” with Jamie Schwarz

At Gateway Church in Austin, we concluded our series called “Timeless.”

Things aren’t always as simple as black and white. So how do we navigate the gray? In our series Timeless, we explore wisdom in a nuanced world. Drawing inspiration from popular sayings and proverbs worldwide, each message aligns them with Biblical wisdom. Maneuvering life’s complexities, we want to bridge the gap between human insight and the guidance that God’s Word and His Spirit offers us.

“Con los años la viña da mejor vino.” (With years, the vine yields better wine) – Latin American Proverb

We are wise when we learn from our elders and invest in our youth.

Digging Deeper:

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Discussion Questions

Message Video:

Message Audio:

Message Notes:

That last song is called Blood Related. It’s one of those songs that pulls at your heartstrings as it explores the challenges and complexities of our family relationships, especially touching on the dynamics between one generation and the next. 

Family or not, there’s a truth woven in this song that I think is very relatable…finding common ground and relating to the generations before and after you can be challenging.

I’m currently experiencing this. I’m in this interesting age range known as “middle age”. It’s so weird being middle aged because to those younger than you, you’re old. But when someone older than you finds out how old you are they say, “oh you’re just a baby”. 

To those younger than me I’m outdated but to those older than me I still have SO much to learn.

Middle age is  also this funny place where my adult children are starting to do things to me that I used to do to my parents. For example, my siblings and I used to tease my mom about things she’d say that were outdated and not used in culture anymore. Has anyone else ever done that to your parents? We kind of feel like we have to be the culture police with them and save them for themselves and the embarrassing things they might say.

 My mom would say something that was just so outdated that we couldn’t help ourselves. We would burst out laughing so hard and say “MOM…nobody says that anymore!” 

We thought it was hilarious but there was this look that she would get when we did this. I didn’t fully understand that look until recently when my adult kids did the exact same thing to me! 

I said something, they laughed and it was like an exact replica of what had happened with my mom. I am certain that the exact same look that I had seen on my moms face was coming over my face as my kids laughed at me and I realized then what she must have been feeling. It wasn’t the same as being offended or not being able to take a joke. What I felt in that moment was the strange feeling of knowing that my time is passing by and that the younger generation’s time is coming and that there is nothing I can do to stop it. Experiences like this have caused me to wonder about my place in things, to ask myself the question, “Where do I fit into the picture now?” Can any of you relate with that?

I imagine to some degree everyone can relate to the tension between generations, whether in your family, at your workplace, in church, or in your neighborhood. I think we can all agree that finding common ground and relating with the generations before and after us can be challenging. However, I think we can also agree that  just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that it’s not worth pursuing. 

I’d like us all to consider this question. Do you value the generations around you? 

Your gut response might be to say yes but I want us all to look deeper. I want us to ask ourselves the hard question, “Do I really?” 

How do you treat the people who are older than you? How do you treat the people that are younger than you? 

Do you show them respect? Do you listen to them? Are you patient with them? Do you make space in your life for them? Do you make time to help them? Do you pray for them? Do you encourage them and let them know that they are valuable to you and to God?

How we value those around us will be revealed in how we treat them. What does how we treat those older and younger than us reveal about us?

For the past 5 weeks we’ve been in this series “Timeless” where we’ve been exploring wisdom in the Bible. Each week we’ve taken wise sayings from around the world and looked at them through the lens of the Bible and the wisdom of God.

As we close out this series today we are looking at a Latin American Proverb “Con los años la viña da mejor vino.” which translates to, “With years, the vine yields better wine.”

Now, we will NOT be debating whether or not older vines make better grapes, rather we are going to be focusing on the value of the older generations that have come before us and the wisdom they have to share, as well as the importance of supporting and preparing the younger generations that are coming up after us. This proverb ISN’T simply putting a premium on age. But in fact we NEED to invest and support younger generations so they can GROW and proverbial yield “better wine” for them and the generations that follow. As we look to the Bible to explore this topic today I believe we will discover that…

We are wise when we learn from our elders and invest in our youth.

Let’s start by digging into the first part of that statement. We are wise when we learn from our elders. This truth is found throughout the Bible.

From the beginning of creation humans have needed wisdom. 

We were created by God with so much potential for growth and possibility. We were created into an environment where God himself provided everything we would need, including wisdom. 

Humans were created in the image of God by God but we ourselves are not God.

Only God is all wise. Humans are not. Yet, God wasn’t depriving us of wisdom, he himself is the source of wisdom and he always intended on providing wisdom for us in the context of relationship.

Imagine the creation fresh and new, the man and the woman in the garden with God. As they walk together with God exploring creation they talk, bringing him their questions, sharing with him their thoughts, listening to his guidance, and receiving from him knowledge about creation and wisdom on how to best apply that knowledge. God has always been the source of wisdom and he has always desired to generously share it with us.

One of the most heartbreaking moments of the Bible is when the man and the woman chose to rebel against God and to define good and evil on their own terms, apart from God and his wisdom. In Genesis 3:1-7 it says…

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 

When faced with temptation…rather than listening to what God had told them and trusting him…rather than running to him for wisdom and guidance…the man and the woman chose to trust themselves…their perspective…their judgment. They choose to do what seemed good to them rather than to trust the protective boundaries God had given them.

Now, if there is something about this that seems all too familiar to you, it’s because this story is not just a Bible story that we can find at the beginning of the Bible. This story stirs deep within us. This story is familiar in a way that goes beyond, I’ve heard this story before. This story is OUR story. We’ve lived it and we are living it now. 

One of the primary obstacles that gets in the way of us valuing our elders and seeking out their wisdom is that we think we know better.

This obstacle is rooted in ignorance and pride. I know those are hard words to stomach but please hear me out. This isn’t just a you problem. This is an us problem. This is a human problem.

Have you heard the saying you can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there? 

If we want to value our elders and the wisdom they have to share then we have to first address that which gets in the way.

Pride and ignorance make for a destructive combination that prevents us from receiving the gift of wisdom that God is providing for us through our elders.

Think about a time when you thought you knew best. Even when people older and wiser than you were trying to offer you wisdom and guidance but you knew your way was better. What has rejecting wisdom and insisting on your own way cost you?  What has it cost those around you?

One of the challenges of being young and inexperienced at life is that you don’t know how much you don’t know. When we are young and we get a little bit of knowledge the next thing we know we think we’re experts and we know everything, but the truth is we don’t. The dangerous part of this is that as long as we think we know better we will reject & ignore the wisdom of others’ and continue to insist on our own way. In doing so we reject the gift of wisdom God has provided for us in our elders.

You see our elders represent the accumulated wisdom of God. I’m not saying that everyone who is old is wise. What I am saying is that those who seek wisdom over time accumulate it and are ready and able to pass it on to those generations who are coming up behind them. 

Through the wisdom of our elders God helps to equip us for life. 

A simple example of this is my Grandma’s bread. My Grandma made the best bread! There isn’t anything in the world I loved to eat more than a warm slice of my Grandma’s bread toasted with a little bit of butter on it. When I got old enough I asked my Grandma to teach me how to bake her bread. So we set up a day for me to come over and bake bread with her. She’d given me the recipe ahead of time so I read over it. On the day of I thought I’ve got this, because well I had the recipe. I almost thought that since I had the recipe I could probably just figure it out on my own but boy would that have been a mistake. I’m thankful I followed through and went to her house that day for my bread baking lesson because I not only learned how to make bread that day but I also learned the difference between knowledge and wisdom. 

You see, my Grandma had been baking bread every single week for years. I’m not sure who taught her but what I know is that over time she had perfected the art of bread baking. While the recipe could give me basic instructions and knowledge, what it couldn’t do was pass on her craftsmanship, her wisdom. The recipe said to knead the dough but I can tell you right now there is an art to kneading dough well and how you knead the dough will definitely impact your final product. That day my Grandma not only taught me how to bake bread but she also imparted to me years of her bread baking wisdom and I am forever grateful.

My Grandma has since passed on but her bread baking wisdom lives on in me. One year I did a project with my three kids where I baked Grandma’s bread with them passing on to them the wisdom and knowledge that she had shared with me.

How has the wisdom of others benefited you? Who has taken the time to share with you not only their knowledge but also their skill, their artistry, their craftsmanship, their wisdom? How often are you seeking out the wisdom and experience of those who’ve come before you? What equipping for life are you lacking right now that God may want to provide through someone older and wiser than you?

As we move on, I want to look at the first 9 chapters of the book of Proverbs. In these chapters the author starts with a series of speeches from a father to a son. In these speeches the father represents the elder – who also represents the accumulation of wisdom, and the son represents the young person who is new to life and therefore ignorant to the ways of the world. 

In these speeches the father is pleading with the son to listen to him. As he shares his words seem weighty and urgent like he’s desperate for his son to listen, to accept, and to apply the wisdom that he is sharing with him. 

Why is this father so desperate? Why is he taking this so seriously?

One of the things that sticks out to me as I read through these first 9 chapters is that this seems like a father who’s been through some stuff, like this dad has seen some things in his lifetime. 

I bet some of us know what that feels like. Have any of you been through some stuff? Have you made some bad mistakes or have you gone through hardships that you’d love to protect your kids or the younger generation coming up behind you from? 

It’s like, as this father is writing this letter, he’s picturing his young son, who he loves deeply, having to face life’s challenges, trials, and temptations and he wants to do everything in his power to equip and prepare him for it. Fear strikes him as he imagines his son being deceived and led astray by evil. He knows that he can’t keep evil from him but he is determined to do his best to impart wisdom to his son to help prepare him for life because he cares about his future.

Listen to his words in Proverbs 3:1-18… 

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[g]

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

What I love and find so encouraging about this fathers words, is that he not only provides instructions on what to avoid or stay away from, but more importantly he also provides instructions for a good life. He focuses on the blessing of wisdom and how wisdom offers hope for the future. So let’s uncover the second half of our big idea:

We are wise when we learn from our elders and invest in our youth.

Through the wisdom of our elders God gives us hope for the future.

I remember being a young mom and I’d joined a bible study at my church. I just signed up for the study that sounded the most interesting to me but it turned out I was the only one under 60 in this study and I was in my early 20’s at the time. But even though there was an age gap I still went. I remember one particular morning I came in stressed out and overwhelmed because I’d had a very rough morning with my kids. I felt like I was a horrible mother, that I’d blown it, and that I was a complete failure. As I walked into my group in tears these women came around lovingly to see what was wrong. As I shared about my morning and what a failure I was they all listened attentively and just let me talk. 

They stayed calm and with eyes of love and compassion they just embraced me as their own and told me it was going to be ok. They let me know that while these years were hard it wouldn’t always be this way. They went on to share with me some of their own experiences and as they did I felt encouraged. And I felt something else…I felt hopeful. If they had all been where I am to some degree and they were able to make it through then I felt like I would too. I left my group that day with a renewed perspective because of the wisdom and experience of the women in my group. They gave me hope.

When we prayerfully consider the advice of mentors, parents, and elders we are leaning on generations of collective wisdom. Through their wisdom we gain insight, perspective, and hope for our future.

Who are the elders in your life? Who are the people God has placed around you who are further along than you in their faith journey that you can seek for wisdom and guidance and learn from? 

Now, while we are to listen and receive wisdom from those further along, the Bible speaks even more about our role in passing the baton to the next generation. We are not only wise when we listen to our elders, we are also wise when we invest in our youth.

 Listen to God’s command to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9- 4

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The onus is on the older generation to teach the younger generation about who God is and how to love and follow Him with their whole lives.

Often we hear older generations complaining about “kids these days” and the ways they fall short. They don’t show any respect, they don’t have a strong work ethic, etc.

In every generation there’s so much to critique and pick apart, but the question we have to ask ourselves is, are we just going to sit on the sidelines and complain about it? Are we just going to  make excuses about why it’s not our problem and keep pushing it off on someone else? Or are we going to say, “here I am Lord, send me” and step up to do something about it?

Investing in the next generation is important to God because he wants every generation to know Him and to make Him known. 

Another heartbreaking verse in the Bible is Judges 2:10. The generation of Joshua and Caleb led God’s people finally into the promised land and the account says that all the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived him, who had seen all the great works the Lord had done for Israel, but when that generation died off, so did the story of God with them.  The verse reads…  

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.

It only took one generation to forget God and it’s because they failed to live by the command of Deut. 6, loving God with all their heart, soul and strength and teaching their children how to do the same! 

We are all here because someone invested in us, set an example for us, or shared their faith with us. This is how the church multiplies, by spreading the good news of Jesus and helping others follow Him, as we have. 

And I’m not just talking to those in the room who are over 30. This is for younger people here as well. Just as Paul encouraged his young protege who was learning how to lead a church, not to let his age get in the way of leading others, but instead, “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12) If you are humbly seeking to obey Jesus, you can and should bring others along with you. 

How are you investing in those who are younger both in age and in faith? Regardless of how old you are, who can you come alongside and support or encourage on their faith journey? 

As we prepare to close I want to go back to where we started. If…

We are wise when we learn from our elders and invest in our youth.

As you consider what you heard, what next step might God me leading you to take today? 

The reality is that we need God and we need each other. God always intended on providing wisdom for us in the context of relationships, our relationship with him and with each other. 

When we devalue the generations around us or allow division between us we can not live the way God has created and called us to. When we live this way we can not receive all the wisdom God has for us and we can not pass on the wisdom that God’s given us.

But what happens when we do embrace the generations around us and live as God intends? Then, rather than being divided by our age, we live united as one family…His family.

The truth is there is something key, or rather someone, that is essential to us being able to live out this healthy multigenerational family and that someone is Christ Jesus.

When we live united in Christ as one multigenerational church family then we live in the wisdom of the Lord. It is Christ alone that takes people from every generation and breathes new life into them through the gift of his death and resurrection. And it is Christ alone that is able to transform this crowd of differing generations into a beautiful, loving, life giving family. 

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