Is Retirement Biblical? :: by Bill Perkins

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest that when you reach a certain age you should have enough money to sit back and do nothing. In fact, man’s penalty for sin in the Garden of Eden is lifelong work.

“Then to Adam He said: Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17).

When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God forbid them from picking up the divinely supplied manna for even one additional day, except for the Sabbath. And if they did gather more than a day’s worth, it spoiled.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day . . . On the sixth day. . . . it will be twice as much as they gather daily” (Exodus 16:4-5).

Yet, literally, every night on television, the number of ads proclaiming how to reach your retirement goals is mind-numbing. The world apparently believes people should be obsessed with how much they have in their “retirement” account and how much more is needed.

Commercial after commercial is highly suggestive that success in this life is all about having enough money to do what you want when you get old.

But, like a lot of other things where the world’s thinking is not biblically oriented, it has the wrong long-term focus. And if we’re not careful, we’ll get sucked into the world’s focus and away from God’s truth.

The Bible is clear that this life is not about how much we accumulate in this life.

“Then He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions’” (Luke 12:15).

After making that statement, Jesus went on to tell the parable about the man who had so much he decided to build bigger barns.

“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:19-21).

The idea is that in this life we need to be mainly concerned with eternal things, not temporal things. Money is temporal. God is forever. Our life should be focused on eternity, not on this earth.

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Col. 3:2

And when you have the correct long-term priorities, this life will take care of itself.

“…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:19).

This, of course, does not mean saving money is wrong. We save for unexpected events. The Bible says it’s smart to save, and even to have money leftover when you die.

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22).

Yet, not everyone will have an abundance. God chooses some to have more and some to have less material wealth.

“It is the blessing of the LORD that makes us rich, and He adds no sorrow to it” (Proverbs 10:22).

Men are simply to work hard to provide for their families.

“…if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all” ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

“I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread”  (Psalm 37:25).

When men work, they are to assume they are working for the Lord, that He is their ultimate taskmaster. They’re not  only to work hard but also to look at their employer or business as God-ordained, leaving the ultimate success up to the Lord.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

“May the LORD give you increase, you and your children” (Psalm 115:14).

This must, of course, be balanced with the fact that if God does allow us an abundance, we’re to multiply our assets. The late Christian financial counselor Larry Burkett loved to point out that roughly two-thirds of the parables that Jesus told were about money. Money itself is not evil.

“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

In the Matthew 25 parable about investing, some made money, some lost money, but the only guy who was chastised was the one who buried his money and wasn’t even earning interest. He failed by not investing.

So it’s not wrong to have some savings or even a lot of investments. What’s important is to have the right biblical purpose for which you save. Our life’s focus should not be saving money for retirement. Rather, investing in eternity.

Spiritual Maturity Is Our Goal

We’re to desire to be “rich toward God.” Not spend our lives trying to save enough money to get to a point to do nothing. By making spiritual maturity the goal, when a man is older he has have a lot to offer in wisdom. He can then attest to the fact that this life is all about God, not money. It’s about being mature in God’s ways, not man’s.

“They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:14-15).

“…until we all attain to…a mature man” (Ephesians 4:13).

“… they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14).

“…let us press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1).

Keep your eyes on the prize!