“Then he told them a story: A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:16-21
Is retirement a sin? Only the wrong kind of retirement. I once was asked to lead a men’s discussion group at an upscale condo development in Florida. I knew most of the men – good men with great reputations in both business and as Christians, back in Michigan.
The group was working their way through The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. The chapter they slated for me to discuss was on discovering the mission for your life. So, I began asking them what each believed their mission was while in Florida for 4-6 months each year.
The only sound in the room for the next 20 seconds was the hum of the air conditioner.
Finally one brave sole spoke up. “Well we all attend this study once a week and most of us have other Bible studies we attend.”
I knew my answer wasn’t going to be popular. “Unless you’re the one actually leading a study, attending one isn’t really a ministry. It’s preparation for ministry.” I went on to explain;
Retirement isn’t a sin unless you retire like the rich fool in Jesus parable. He used his money to just enjoy the balance of his life, in the pursuit of leisure and pleasure. Christian retirement is the ability given by God, to rest from 40-60 hour vocational workweeks, to devote a majority of that time to kingdom living.
If we truly believe everything we have is from God and belongs to God, then we’re still in God’s employment – even in retirement. Our life is not our own to spend our day as we wish. Retiring from our vocational jobs, simply frees us up to devote the majority of that time to serving others.
I’ve made this statement many times, “I would hate to face Jesus someday and confess that I used my retirement to kill time pleasantly in warm places.”
That’s exactly the kind of life Jesus warns us against in this parable!
The typical retired Christian longs to spend 75% of their time killing time pleasantly while doing a little volunteer work at church, or a parachurch ministry. That is modern retirement. It’s just not biblical retirement. That is not why we are given by God, extra years of health, wisdom and economic freedom. Please don’t die and have to face Jesus someday, with a lower handicap than you had prior to retirement.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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