Is retirement planning contradictory to trusting God? Are we displaying a lack of trust by storing money for the future? Didn’t Jesus warn us against worrying about tomorrow and seeking after the things of this world?
We don’t have a lot to go off of in the Bible concerning retirement. Maybe because the life expectancy in the New Testament was only about 40 years old. But what can we learn from what we know?
The Bible has many examples of saving for the future. Let’s take a look at a few:
- In Genesis 41, upon interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph also suggests that Pharaoh save 20% of the produce each year, in preparation for the coming years of famine.
- In Exodus 16, when God gave manna to the Israelites, He told them to gather twice their daily amount on the 6th day, as they wouldn’t be permitted to gather on the Sabbath. In fact, some disobeyed and went out to gather on the Sabbath, but they found nothing. It was too late.
- Proverbs 6:6ff – “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer, and gathers its food at harvest.”
- Proverbs 21:20 – “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.”
In each of these examples, we see preparation for a future season. Whether it be a day, a few months, or several years, we see that this sort of planning is attributed with godly wisdom and is rewarded.
So how does this align with Jesus’ warning against worrying about tomorrow?
Our attitude towards our material possessions translates directly to our spiritual condition. Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. After He explains that no man can serve both God and money, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we eat, drink, or wear – not to worry about tomorrow. Rather, to seek first the kingdom of God, and He will take care of us.
There’s a difference between worrying about tomorrow and preparing for it.
When we are prepared, Jesus’ return is the best thing for us. When we’re excited for it, and when we know that it will lead to an existence unlike anything we could imagine, we are not worried about tomorrow. Tomorrow could be the best day of our lives. To die is gain!
But to live is Christ. The focus of our remaining days on this earth should be spent sharing our hope of Heaven, rather than being preoccupied with whether or not we have enough. That is what I think Jesus is telling us in Matthew 6.
I believe that saving for retirement is a godly act – of course, not to say that not saving for retirement would be ungodly, as not everyone has the chance. But our saving for retirement is acceptance of an opportunity given to us by God – an opportunity to bless others like never before, and an opportunity to go to work in new ways!
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Fun fact – the concept of retirement doesn’t appear to be man-made.
Numbers 8:23-26 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.””
Much like the Levites were given a different kind of work as they moved on to a new phase in their lives, so God gives us the opportunity to take up new responsibilities!