Does Scripture Teach Anything on Retirement?

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Hi Mike,

Does the bible teach anything on retirement? I don’t recall reading about anyone retiring, so should a Christian just keep working until he/she dies? I’m getting close to that age, and though I still feel good, I am slowing down. Would just like to know what is the best course of action before I get there.

Thanks,

A____

Hi A____,

Thanks for your question concerning retirement. For those ‘of a certain age’, it becomes an important question.

While it is true that scripture does not mention Abraham, Isaac or Jacob ‘retiring’ at age 65, it certainly does mention the fact that Isaac had gotten so old he could not tell Jacob from Esau, so it is obvious that he was no longer watching after his own flocks and had worked long and hard enough to pay others to do that for him.

All men of God are diligent and hard working, both physically and spiritually, as long as they are capable of doing so. The scriptures do not speak of retirement per se, but there is nothing wrong with retiring from strenuous physical or mental labor in a secular job with a well deserved pension. Such a situation can free us up to be of even greater service to our Lord, if that is what He has written in His book.

It is the fact that we do not retire from seeking the kingdom of God first, and being always vigilant and sober and diligent in our service to the kingdom of God. That is the point of these scriptures:

2Sa 11:1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. [Retired?]
2Sa 11:2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.

Psa 139:16 Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them. (ASV)

Luk 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
Luk 12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
Luk 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
Luk 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. [Retire?]
Luk 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Luk 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

None of these verses are condemning physical retirement from secular work. They are one and all warning us against letting down our spiritual guard, and becoming spiritually complacent as King David did. He thought he was still ruling the kingdom when in reality he had “laid up treasure for himself and was not rich toward God”. It is entirely possible to retire from being physical fishermen to become fishers of men, and it is also entirely possible to retire from construction work to become fishers of men, as our Lord Himself did.

I hope all of this serves to give some scriptural balance to this subject of retirement. If we retire so we can travel, or we retire so we can simply take it easy, we need to pay close attention to our Lord’s warning:

Luk 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Luk 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Your brother in the never tiring Christ,

Mike

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