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Friday, November 20, 2009

Retirement Isn't in the Bible. So What?

“Retirement isn’t in the Bible. So I don’t plan to retire.” The 40-year-old teacher told his adult Sunday school class. Stay tuned. Twenty-five years from now he may change his mind.

The teacher was right about one thing, though; retirement isn’t in the Bible. But neither does the Bible mention health insurance, automobiles, vacations, or hot fudge sundaes. Yet, most of us carry health insurance, buy automobiles, take vacations, and enjoy an occasional hot fudge sundae. You haven’t heard anyone say, “No hot fudge sundae for me, thank you; the Bible doesn’t mention hot fudge sundaes. However, if you happen to have some locusts and wild honey . . . .“

The issue of retiring comes down to a personal decision based on circumstances. More of us seniors are postponing retirement. We recognize that improved medical care—clear diagnoses, safe surgical procedures, and new drugs—is extending human life. If we retire at 65 but live to be 85 or 90, our previously anticipated retirement income needs would not carry us through those extra years. Also, if we enjoy good health, we reason that we might get bored after a few years of fishing or lounging beside a pool. So we opt to stay in the work force a while longer.

Post-retirement-age workers pose a problem, though, to their companies because they cost more in wages and health benefits. Many firms, therefore, encourage employees to retire by offering them an attractive severance package. But, if aging workers love their jobs or feel no one can replace them, they may want to stay until they are carried out in a pine box.

The Bible doesn’t indicate whether it is right or wrong to retire, but it makes it clear that we ought to serve the Lord as long as we live. What happened to the apostle John affirms this fact. The Roman emperor had banished—retired—John to the obscure island of Patmos. Surely, at the age of 90 and living far from the mainland, John would pose no threat to the empire. How could he spread Christianity from Patmos? He might as well kick back, wait for Gabriel to blow his horn, and take his last breath.

But John wasn’t the retiring type. He kept on worshiping and serving the Lord, and one day he received a visit from Him. There, at Patmos, Jesus commissioned John to write Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Revelation has given believers through the centuries a glimpse of Jesus as our glorified Lord, King of kings, and Lord of lords. John’s brightest day and perhaps greatest ministry arrived nearly three decades after his 65th birthday.

Your best day, and mine too, may lie ahead.


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