Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
This verse hardly needs any extra commentary, but it is a worthy thought for any day. Why do we think to ourselves that former days, former times, were somehow better than the times we are in? God tells us that such thinking does not come from wisdom.
I have recently been reading with my daughter the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As we read the stories of the Ingalls family during the late 19th century, it is easy to think that those were the good days. Children had discipline and obeyed their parents. Law seemed to be obeyed. The courtship between Almanzo and Laura was sweet and innocent.
But were those days better? OF course they were not. Sin still reigned in the hearts of men. Sexual immorality still happened in those days, it was simply less public. Drunkenness was still a vice. Racism against blacks and native Americans was prevalent. And the churches showed evidence of poor preaching, bad doctrine, and disregard of rightly-handled Scripture.
In fact, in the chapter leading up to Laura and Almanzo’s wedding in These Happy Golden Years, Laura balks at the use of the word “obey” as part of the wedding vows. Almanzo points out to her that their preacher in their town did not use that word, and in fact, that the preacher argued against Paul on that topic. Regardless of one’s views of gender roles in the home, to hear that the preacher is praised for arguing against Paul on a topic is not the sign of faithful, biblical Christianity.
The point I’m making is that, if we examine the former times, there was as much sin, as much hardship, and as much sorrow as we see today. OF course our sins are different today. Today’s lack of morality seems so much more brazen, so much more callous, than it did in years gone by. But the times were not better. Men were still sinners in need of grace. Men were still rebels against their Creator who needed to repent and turn to Jesus to find salvation.
So, the next time you are tempted to long for the good old days, be they the 1950s, the 1880s, the first century, or just the days of that pastor you like so much more than the one you have now, realize that longing for the good old days is not from wisdom. The good old days were fraught with difficulty as well as beauty. So too are these present days. Instead of longing for days of old, let us obey God’s word and glorify Christ with all that we have in the time we have been given.