Our society views retirement as leisure time with no working–a sort of reward for 20, 30, or 40 years of hard work. It consists of lazy days, puttering around the house, hobbies, volunteering, travel, family, planning how to spend your time, moving, lower taxes, and living on one’s savings. (Actually, it’s probably more about living on Social Security, health issues, Medicare, and dying).
Yes, retirement is all about withdrawing from one’s work or labor in order to live a life of leisure–enjoying life to the fullest without any obligation, commitment, or worry. As a result, we have the mentality that you can do what you feel like doing whenever you want to do it. The idyllic retirement is kicking back with friends, traveling, eating out, and playing golf and tennis every day.
Or, it’s a time to spend your inheritance, or to put even more money away. Tony Soprano viewed it as “making millions of dollars sitting on his a__.” Yes, retirement is all about ourselves.
However, what does the Bible say about retirement? Not too much:
In reference to the work of the Levite priests in maintaining the Old Testament tabernacle, Numbers 8:25-26 says, “But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more. They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation, but they themselves shall do no work.” These priests had to retire because they were no longer physically able to perform the demanding duties of their work in the tabernacle. However, they didn’t go off to a life of leisure as a reward for a lifetime of work. Instead, they were expected to take on the role of assisting the younger men in performing their work. In other words, they were no longer able to work physically, so they became counselors and mentors.
Concerning widows, 1 Timothy 5:5 says, “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” Prayer is perhaps the most fruitful ministry outlet for those who have retired. Generations of descendants have been impacted by the faithful prayers of an elderly family “patriarch” or “matriarch.” In Luke 2:36-37, Anna was an 84-year-old widow who “never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”
1 Timothy 5:6 then follows with a warning for those widows: “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Our older years are not to be spent solely in the pursuit of pleasure. Paul says that this is death, not life.
2 Corinthians 12:14 says that “children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.” Even if we have extra money in retirement, we’re not to consume it all on our own pleasures. We should save it for our childrens’ inheritance. However, regardless of money, our inheritance to them should include our spiritual heritage which we have saved over the years. Psalm 71:18 says, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
The Christian never retires from Christ’s service. Even if he retires from his vocation, his life work of serving the Lord does not change. We can still relate how God has worked in our lives.