“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” We’ve all heard that and none of us with any age believes it. It’s a rabble-rousing adage the young toss around to each other to confirm themselves in their youthful ignorance…Or is it? Most common sense wisdom like this has roots in truth – maybe not unassailable truth, but kernels of truth nonetheless.
I do have a dog and she’s not a pup. I should test the theory to see if I can teach her something she doesn’t know. Maybe, however, God made dogs hard-headed in their age to teach a point to their masters: some things are more easily learned and assimilated when we’re young.
I think we could probably tease out the truth of this. Marriage is more easily fruitful and joyful when it is begun at a younger age (there are so many lessons to learn! The young have the resiliency). Parenting is also more fitfully begun and done at a young age (how many of us have seen bedraggled grandparents raising children?). Military service is definitely for the young (believe me!).
It is also true that the young haven’t had the time to develop the hardness of heart that comes from the vicissitudes of life: hard knocks produce hard skin, to be sure. Richard Baxter explains that age wars against willingness to submit to and follow Jesus Christ:
Age itself has many inconveniences and youth has many great advantages: and therefore it is folly to delay. In age, understanding and memory grow dull and people grow incapable and almost unchangeable. We see, by our every day’s experience that men think they should not change when they are old; that opinion or practice in which they have been brought up they think they should not then forsake.
Besides how unfit is age to be at that pains that youth can undergo? How unfit to begin the holy warfare against the flesh, the world and the devil? God’s way is to [en]list his soldiers as soon as may be when in youth; but the devil will persuade them that it is yet too soon; and when he can no longer persuade them that it is yet too soon, he will then persuade that it is too late.
What advantage has youth; they are not rooted and hardened in sin nor filled with prejudice and obstinacy against godliness, as others are.
Do you believe that as you accumulate life experience – hard life experience – that those lessons will more incline you to follow Christ? I should think not. Why, after you’ve endured those difficult experiences (in your mind without the help of God) would you then turn to Him?
Friend, it just doesn’t work that way. Turn now and live.