What is the Christian view of retirement?

Question: "What is the Christian view of retirement?"

As Christians approach retirement age, they wonder what a Christian should do during the retirement years. Do Christians retire from Christian service when they retire from the workplace?

How should a Christian view retirement?

1) Although there is no biblical principle that a person should retire from his work when he reaches a certain age, there is the example of the Levites and their work related in the tabernacle. In Numbers 4, the different Levite males are numbered for service in the tabernacle from ages 30-50 years of age. "This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites" (Numbers 8:24-26).

2) Even though we may retire from our vocations (even "full-time" Christian ministry), we should never retire from serving the Lord, although the way in which we serve Him may change. There is the example of two very old people in Luke 2:25-38 (Simeon and Anna) who continued to serve the Lord faithfully. In that passage is an elderly widow who is spoken of as ministering to the Lord in the temple daily with fastings and prayer. Titus 2 states that the older men and women are to teach the younger how to behave by their example.

3) One's older years are not to be spent solely in the pursuit of pleasure. Paul says that the widow who lives for pleasure is dead while she yet lives (1 Timothy 5:6). Contrary to biblical instruction, many people equate retirement with "pursuit of pleasure" if at all possible. This is not to say that retirees cannot enjoy golf, social functions, or pleasurable pursuits. But these should not be the primary focus of oneís life at any age.

4) Second Corinthians 12:14 states that the parent ought to save up for the children. But by far the greatest thing to "save up" is one's spiritual heritage which can be passed on to children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as well. James Dobson, in his book, Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, speaks of his great-grandfather who in his older years spent one hour a day just before lunch praying for his descendants, those presently living as well as those not yet born. One day he announced to his family that God informed him that all of his descendants to the fourth generation would become Christians. James Dobson was of that fourth generation and indeed all before him had not only become Christians but had also been ministers or married ministers of the denomination that his great-grandfather had been a part of. James Dobson was the first one to not enter the ministry.

In summary, as one reaches "retirement age" (whatever that is) his vocation may change but his lifeís work of serving the Lord does not change. And often it is these "senior saints" who, after a lifetime of walking with God, are able to convey the truths of God's Word by relating how God has worked in their lives. The psalmist's prayer should be our prayer as we age (Psalm 71:18):

"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 Christís service; he only changes the address of his workplace.

Recommended Resource: Creating a Successful Retirement: Finding Peace and Purpose by Richard Johnson.

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How can I know God's will for my life?

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Should Christians go to doctors?

Should a Christian co-sign on a loan?

How do I get a passion for Jesus?

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What is the Christian view of retirement?