Retirement IS Biblical; but…

Photo by Anukrati Omar on Unsplash

The current perspective of “retirement” is the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from one’s active working life. This concept is prevalent in our American society and is a primary focus of most peoples lives whether they will be able to retire or not. We are encouraged to plan and save for retirement a large portion of our lives.

The focus seems to be on STOP WORKING and do whatever we want; but what is the Biblical perspective of “retirement”?

There are very few verses that specifically reference retirement in the entire Bible.

Numbers 8:24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire (cease) from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”

Ahh! Now we have Biblical authority to sit back and enjoy the later part of our life relaxing and doing whatever we want to do, as early as we want.

WRONG!

The Book of Numbers seems to highlight that even though the Priests have retired from regular service, they still participated in their purpose of carrying out the services of the tabernacle/temple. They assisted, mentored, coached, consulted the younger Priests in their duties, passing on knowledge and excellence of faithful service.

After they “retired” from their service work, at 50 years old, how did they live? Was there a Priest Pension Program (PPP) that provided their lifetime income?

Numbers 18:21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting… 25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’ 30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress. 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting.

The Levites received the tithes of their communities as their provisions while they served. They received the best of what the land and the people produced. It included money (gold & silver), livestock, grains, wine, etc. Then they were to tithe themselves and give to Aaron’s family. Aaron and his descendants received the best of the best produce for their provisions. They lived very well while on the job which allowed them to “save” for their retirement.

What did retirement savings look like before 401(k)’s?

Even though they did not have a land inheritance with the other tribes of Israel, they did have land and homes.

Numbers 35:1 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to give the Levites towns to live in from the inheritance the Israelites will possess. And give them pasturelands around the towns. 3 Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for the cattle they own and all their other animals. 4 “The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend a thousand cubits from the town wall. 5 Outside the town, measure two thousand cubits on the east side, two thousand on the south side, two thousand on the west and two thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns.

Rather than just relax and have fun for the rest of their lives, it seems the Levites really just kept working but had different responsibilities going forward. They mentored the younger generations of the Levites, which may have provided some compensation, but also had private property of their own to continue managing. They still worked according to God’s calling on their lives; it just looked a little different later in life.

Retiring seemed to be more of a responsibility transition than a responsibility elimination.

Notice also that the compensation of the Levites, as well as their personal property were easily and efficiently passed on to the next generation to continue supporting the needs of their families (land, livestock, & the priestly duty).

ONLY THE LEVITES HAD A BIBLICAL MANDATE TO RETIRE. NO ONE ELSE.

So “retirement” is biblical, but perhaps not exactly how most of us think. This doesn’t mean retirement for anyone is bad, but for followers of Christ, we should have a correct perspective.

Let Jesus teach us about the concept of “retirement”:

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.

We must be careful to have a correct perspective of “retirement” whether in the accumulation phase or the income phase of life.

What if God wants to bless our later years more than the beginning? (see Job 42:12–17)

It seems the Biblical model for everyone in their later years is to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, loving, and steadfast; to teach what is good, and train the younger generations; to be a model of good works, and teaching through integrity, dignity, and sound speech (see Titus 2:2–8).

We are to continue bearing fruit for God in our old age (see Psalm 92:12–15); proclaiming God’s might and wonderous deeds to anyone and everyone (see Psalm 71:17–18); to be a blessing to our children and teach them to be a blessing to others (see Psalm 37:25–26).

We are to continue sacrificing ourselves for the glory of Christ Jesus (see Philemon 1:8–9); worshiping, fasting, & praying night and day for the salvation of others (see Luke 2:36–38); offering counsel when needed (see 1Kings 12:6) and taking up the cause of those God has placed in our care (Exodus 7:6).

Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he (God), I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

We have an amazing God who has promised us blessings in living His way, even in our later years. Blessings of long life (see Proverbs 10:27), full of strength and vigor (see Joshua 14:10), and worthy of honor (see 1Timothy 5:17).

Do we have an understanding that God has a purpose for everyone? Everyone is to use their time, talents, and treasures to discover that purpose, and carry out His plan for His glory, no matter our age.

Are the retirement plans and other tools we are using to save flexible, safe, and available for God to do His work through us?

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Or do they incentivize hoarding and self gratification while limiting control and access?

Will they truly provide for us and our loved ones continuously no matter what age we decide to transition?

Can they be passed on to the next generation efficiently?

There is a better way to think, feel, and act about “retirement”.

I encourage anyone to discover for themselves the power and simplicity of the Infinite Banking Concept as discovered, implemented, and taught for many decades by R. Nelson Nash. He eventually wrote a book titled Becoming your Own Banker: Unlock the Infinite Banking Concept. This 92-page book may be the most valuable book about personal finances other than the Bible. His second book is a great addition, titled Building your Wearhouse of Wealth.

This tool has been available for people to utilize for centuries. It was created by like-minded people contracting (private property) together for mutual benefits. Nelson’s work is true to God’s wisdom, as laid out in scripture, for individuals to be blessed by God and live for His glory, through their entire life.

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Austin L Garner

Austin L Garner

Founder of Disciple Wealth Strategies. Serve God & Master Money (Luke 16:13)