christian concept of retirement?

Posted: November 21, 2007 in bible, faith, money

There’s a concept I’ve mentally struggled with for a long time. We talked about it in my small group last week. It’s the concept of “retirement” and “investment savings” as a Christian.

Here’s my struggle. In the New Testament church, no one really owned anything. All possessions and material needs belonged to everyone and people used stuff as it was needed most. The Bible speaks often about trusting God for provision, not worrying about tomorrow, and giving what you have to those who need it more than you.

Yet we live in a current world – Christians included – in which we earn and save mostly for ourselves…we’re taught to put away nest eggs for college savings, retirement, and those “just in case” moments (worrying about tomorrow?) when we’ll need the money.

I realize that this practice is really a result of a community shift. If ALL Christians were committed to New Testament possession principles, we could live the way they did. Even if one church body were committed to it, that church could probably live the NT way. But people don’t do this. We think it’s an awesome concept, but we don’t really trust others, ourselves, and maybe even God enough to really believe that it could work and we could still live comfortable lives.

So, do I look at retirement savings (IRA, 401K, mutual funds, savings, etc) as provisions from God – maybe that’s God’s way of providing for us. Or do I look it as a lack of trust for provision, do I consider it hoarding, and a way to plan on being totally lazy for the last 10-15 years of my life?

Should Christ followers ever truly retire? Or do we simply retire from a worldly job in order to focus our full-time efforts on ministry work? And if we do that, wouldn’t that retirement nest egg be wonderfully spent on missions, providing for the poor, helping people get back on their feet, helping new church plants…..yes, it’s important to have enough to eat and have a roof over your head and a car to drive, but isn’t that really a secondary concern to doing the work of Christ?

Help me out, here. I’m totally on the fence. Sometimes I’ll lean hard one way, then hard the other way. I want to be more committed to saving and investing and making sure my son has all he needs down the road….but I also want to commit to live more frugally, to trust more in God’s provision, to teach my son that we don’t need all the best possessions to be happy and at peace. What are your thoughts? How do you see the Bible teaching us in this area?

  1. bill says:

    man, i go back and forth with this very same thing. i know it has to be even more complicated when you have kids, too. i’ve got no advice, just a shared struggle.

  2. ragamuffinminister says:

    what’s man’s curse again?? 🙂

    yeah, i don’t think it runs up when we hit 60 years old. just my thought on that.

    i’d like to say i still struggle with this. but, honestly, i don’t. i know the right thing to do. it’s just hard for me. so i’m not struggling with the concept, just the application. speaking of struggling, you reminded me of something i’ve been wanting to post. thanks.

  3. jason says:

    thanks guys…nice to know i’m not in left field on this one

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I was just asking this question with my wife last week. We couldn’t decide where to take a vacation due to costs. We haven’t been on a vacation or had a real day off for 5 years, and we have a baby now, and wanted a break. Even though we’ll just be taking a friday off. Anyway, we were going to say forget it because of money (but we have good bit of savings for our age), and I kept worrying about retirement. We’re 28 btw.

    Then I wondered when did the current idea of “retirement” begin? did people retire 200 years ago? Like you said, in NT times, there was no retirement. So I think it’s a recent idea. It put things in perspective to realize retirement just started this past century, and people somehow managed before then.

    So, we’re spending the $1700 for our weekend trip to FL. We’re not throwing caution to the wind because I do believe God wants us to be as wise as we can be in all situations, but at the same time, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we are in control. HE is in control always was and always will be.

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