Should a Christian save for retirement?
Over the last couple years my thoughts on retirement have changed a bit. A few years ago, my goal was to retire early and live the easy life. As I have grown in my walk with God, I have found that (my old self-indulgent idea of) retirement doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the Bible. That doesn’t mean we should be chopping logs 10 hours a day when we are 85, but that God has us down here for a purpose and a specific amount of time.
The truth is that God’s plan for us will keep us busy until we die. I don’t think that necessarily means employment until our last breath, but for some it very well could. If His plan is being fulfilled in our lives via our occupation, who are we to say when we are finished?
To save or not to save for retirement
Even though my mind has changed about retirement, I have not stopped saving in my retirement accounts. Regardless of whether or not I am employed full time when I am 70, why not be prepared financially? To me it seems like a much better idea to have cash in the bank, so that I can be free to do whatever God has for me to do.
The worst case scenario is that I have a big chunk of cash that has been earning interest for decades that I can give away to bless someone. To me, saving for retirement seems like a no-brainer.
Bible verses about retirement and resting
While the Bible doesn’t seem to have specific verses referring to retirement, it does point out the importance of rest. God, our creator, understands the value of rest and relaxation. That, of course, is why He created Sundays! To add to that…
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31
As far as my previous plans for retirement – the below passage from Luke pretty well summed up my plans. Needless to say, I am glad God showed me the error of my ways…
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
“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?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
The thing I have come to realize is that God created us to be in motion. You can use our muscles as an example. If they are not getting pushed, they become weaker. They grow only when they are stretched beyond comfort. Our brains function the same way. They need to be pushed in order to grow and when all pressure is eliminated they begin to atrophy.
This is why work is so beneficial for us. While it is difficult, it makes rest that much more pleasurable.
The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. Eccl 5:12
It all comes back to stewardship
The bottom line with the whole retirement savings question is that as stewards we have a responsibility to do the best with what we have been given. Saving with retirement accounts like 401ks or IRAs is a great way to multiply the talents that we have been given. But, it is not the only way. Every person is going to have to give an account of their stewardship to God, so whatever that means for you individually is what you need to do.