The Never Ending Story
“They will still bear fruit in old age…” (Psa. 92:14).
While some of you may remember the heading of this article as a movie released in 1984 (Has it really been that long?), I am using it to refer to something else: retirement. I have tried to research, but been unable to locate, much information about retirement. Oh, not from folks who are retired, to describe what it’s like being retired. I mean, about the origin of retirement. I have a feeling, at least in our modern era, it’s integrally connected with the Social Security Act of 1935. This Act provided what was then called Old-Age benefits (for retirement), in addition to other benefits, for most in American society.
Biblically, retirement is mentioned of those Levites who had reached a certain age, and were to cease serving in the tabernacle (tent of meeting). Of course, this didn’t mean they could quit serving God altogether. The above passage speaks of the life of the righteous (Psa. 92:12), so all, including Levites who no longer served in the tabernacle, were to serve God while they had the ability to do so. This thought is confirmed to us as Christians in the New Testament, as heaven is spoken of as a rest from labor for those who die in the Lord (Rev. 14:13).
While it may be permissible, and even desirable, to retire from one’s secular employment, there is no such thing in the life of a Christian. Unfortunately, there are those who do retire from the Lord’s work, while they still have the physical ability and opportunity to serve. There is a place for everyone to serve, as contrary to popular opinion, God is impartial as much to age as He is to gender, race, economics, or any other factor in one’s life.
When Paul wrote, “As we have opportunity (Gal. 6:10),” what conditions were attached? I know of no Greek manuscript, or any English translation, that adds “except…” to this passage. Time does take its toll on our bodies, and getting older can mean we can’t always do what was once done. That isn’t the issue. It’s when we can do plenty of other things, except serve the Lord, that should be our concern. How many would be encouraged by a phone call or card? How many need prayer? How many need to see a godly example? Opportunities change for us as we go through life. We must take advantage of them, whatever our age or abilities may be, whatever society presents to us, no matter what is happening in the world around us.
When do we retire spiritually? When we go home to be with the Lord. How long should we be righteous, and live a faithful Christian life? From the day we obey the gospel until we pass from this existence (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 1:17). “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
μαράνα θᾶ (“Our Lord come”)