Is Retirement Biblical?

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  ESV Luke 12:19-21

Part of me wants to retire to the Outer Banks of NC, perhaps near Corolla. Buy a beach house and live there in the off-season. Read a lot, drink coffee, go for a run every day. Travel to Maine in the summer and rent out the beach house. Date my wife every day. In short, save up a bunch of money, relax, eat, drink and be merry. That is, until I read the verses above where God doesn’t seem to approve of that!

As I study Scripture, it seems the American concept of retirement is unbiblical. Nowhere do we get the impression we can stop working prior to death. To be sure, our jobs and vocation may change. As we age, we physically cannot continue to do what we once did. As we age, God’s calling on our lives will most likely change. However, there is no indication in Scripture that we cease to work and simply live for ourselves in our final years. On the contrary, perhaps our final years are where we work the hardest, pouring into the next generation, leaving a legacy, doing our best kingdom work. In Biblical times, young men worked in the fields. As they aged, assuming they demonstrated wisdom, they transitioned to sitting in the city gates. Far from retirement, they now handled the heavy matters of the city, applying their years of wisdom to each challenge that arose in the community. Yes, they no longer worked in the fields, but now they engaged in more important work.

My spiritual formation compels me to continue to work for the sake of the kingdom until God calls me home. I’ll have ample time in heaven to retire (although even there I doubt we will live for ourselves). Yes, my calling will change in the future. Hopefully I’ll spend more time mentoring the next generation, guiding the younger, more effective leaders that arise in my stead. May you endeavor to do the same.

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