Retiring …From What or Whom?

There are many differing opinions on how Christians should be wise and plan for the future. I’ve known supporters for both extremes and most everything in between. Should we think nothing of the future? Just trust it will all work out and we will be supported by others? No. But neither should we spend 100% of our time storing, planning, preparing and discussing our lovely nest egg.

God is wise and wants us to be wise as well.

He does expect us to work hard for a living. He wants us to provide for our family. He wants us to be generous, like He is. He wants us to trust Him and not live lives of worry. How do we combine all these expectations into reality?

Luke 12 gives us some ideas. A rich man considers himself very wise and spends all his time amassing wealth and food so he can, “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” He seems to feel he deserves this upcoming me-time, the typical worldly viewpoint. Retire earlier and earlier and finally have time to spend as we please, as we deserve.

I don’t see that concept in the Bible though. I have never read we should

serve others for half our lives, or even three-quarters,

and then serve ourselves the rest of the time.

When I am living this way, I lose touch with reality and become very selfish and demanding.

Jesus says in verse 15 to look out for all kinds of greed. Apparently greed can vary in appearance. He says, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (verse 15)

I find it interesting that the rich man feels he has “‘no place to store (his) crops'” (verse 17), yet, he has to tear down his current barns to make bigger barns. He must have been able to store some quantity already. Is this a clue?

Verse 19 shows the rich man’s motivation. He hopes to get everything set so he can have fun and enjoy life for “many years”. It’s not really a desire to survive later on or to help provide for his family. He’s just stockpiling everything so he can live it up. Isn’t this a popular philosophy in our day too? Work to an extreme, sacrifice quality time with family and friends, give work and accumulating wealth all our attention so later we can have fun. What gets sacrificed? Families, hearts, relationships, healthy involvement in church, reaching out to others? These are all things we can’t necessarily make up for or fix later. We can’t relive our kids’ childhood. We can’t always heal wounds in our deepest relationships that were caused by neglect and selfishness. It’s definitely a decision, a daily one, to decide where our heart and priorities lie.

And I’m sure most people have witnessed, even firsthand, how pointless storing up wealth can be. We hear stories about the irony of houses being built, money being saved, sacrifices being made that end up wasted because a person dies or gives up on a neglected relationship.

So where does that leave us? We need to be wise with what we have but not allow money to become our “treasure” or our life focus. Sure, we should plan well so we can live life the best we can without having to be a burden to our kids one day. We can put money aside for big events later on if possible. But let’s remember – God is at work right now, today, too. The rich man could have noticed people around him with whom he could share his over-abundant harvest. We all know many people with needs that God may prompt us to address. But if we’re fixated on stockpiling so we can be our own “gods” and need no one and nothing one day, we are truly being the fool. Luke 12:21 says it so well. We must strive to be rich toward God. That is always the wisest and best choice.

Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

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