I was asked to write about Proverbs 16:31.
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. (ESV)
For those of you who don’t know me…I am almost 35, and I have quite a bit of gray hair for someone my age. I’ve been fighting the gray for 10 years now. It started in my mid 20s – one here, another there. I was already coloring at that point, for fun. By my late 20s, it was for necessity and I was going to the hair dresser a lot and eventually…cheaping it at the drug store with a box of color. Recently, (within the last year) I’ve decided to embrace my fate. I’ve gotten mixed reviews. Some family members have told me to color but, as my eye doctor pointed out the other day, that’s probably because it makes the older members of my family feel even older. My friends have embraced it. I get a lot of compliments from people I rarely see, like my eye doctor.
I can totally see the “crown of glory” and the “gained in a righteous life” when I read this verse in reference to my parents and grandparents. I remember my dad speaking about my mom’s dad, saying that Poppy lived such a long life because it was a righteous life. There is a verse about that somewhere in the Bible also. I can see it with my mom for sure. She grayed early and never colored her hair. She is one of those people, you look at her life and see a lot of righteousness, a lot of dignity, a lot of integrity, a lot of God. My dad is a preacher, his beard is almost all white now. There is a lot of right living in my family…and a lot of gray hair.
When I think about my gray hair, I don’t think righteousness. I think genetics. My grandmother was almost completely white-haired at my age. My mom was about half there at my age. And now I am on my way to looking like Emmy Lou Harris. (I am totally going to rock the long-gray-haired look.) But I don’t know about the righteousness part. Perhaps it’s just because I don’t really want to think of myself as righteous. Not that I don’t want to live a righteous life, but to call myself righteous seems … arrogant.
Let’s look at the verse more metaphorically than literally. How do you measure a righteous life? Perhaps the gray hair alone isn’t the measure or sign of righteousness, but rather the measure of righteous living begins to show itself in the time of life when gray hair is most prevalent. With age comes wisdom. With age comes growth from either hard lessons and/or Godly insight that leads to a life steeped in righteousness.
We live in a world so consumed with youth. People trying to look younger all the time. Perhaps we should honor age more than youth. Maybe that’s what this verse is trying to tell us. Age – and the signs of it – should be honored like the crown of a king or queen. We should always honor our older generations. They have seen more than we have. They have done more than we have. They know more than we do. We should treat them all as royalty.