Since I have recently retired from pastoral ministry, this will be my last contribution to the pastor’s column in the Enterprise Dispatch. Let me share a few words about retirement.
Philippians 1:6 ESV: “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
In this verse and many others, we can see that God finishes what He starts. During His ministry on earth, He did so much work that John in his gospel said that the world couldn’t contain all the books if everything about His work was written.
When Jesus finished His work on earth, He didn’t hang up a sign saying, “gone fishing,” but from Heaven, He continues to work. Acting as our permanent, merciful, and faithful High Priest, He is our advocate, interceding for us. He is preparing a place for us and will return for us to take us to be with Him forever.
I’m glad that Jesus didn’t just buy a condo on a golf course and forget about us.
But, does the Bible have anything to say about retirement? I suppose you could consider John’s exile on Patmos, or Paul’s imprisonment as some kind of retirement. Even there, they both continued to write (Revelation; Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians).
I am aware of only one place in scripture where retirement is mentioned: Numbers 8:23-26 ESV.
“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 of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
The Levites were the priests of God whose job was to serve at the tabernacle. In the wilderness, they had to assemble the tabernacle and then disassemble it when God moved them. They were the ones who had to carry all of the parts of the tabernacle to the next location. They also served in the hard work of slaughtering lambs, goats, and bulls for sacrifice.
They did not retire from service, but they did retire from the heavy lifting. That was work for younger men.
As a Christian comes to the age where they need to turn over the heavy lifting to younger people, they should not think that they are to just sit back, relax, eat, drink and be merry. Service to God is not a duty that we fulfill and then lay aside. Service to Christ is a joyous privilege, which we pray will never be taken from us.
“Our lives end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”