Does the Bible instruct to plan for retirement?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Planning for Retirement

Solomon stressed the need to work hard and plan for retirement. He wrote, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). While God provides for the needs of every living creature (Psalm 145:15, 16), they have to search for it and save it.

Man is expected to use his intelligence and abilities to meet his needs. Proverbs 21:20 speaks about the need to plan for retirements, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” The Bible has a strong work ethics: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Many who are wasteful and lazy have suffered financially.

Adam was told “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). The Savior Himself, as “the carpenter,” set a perfect example for His followers (Mark 6:3). The believer is to do everything in his power to keep from being a burden upon others in the time of his retirement. He should work so that, in addition to helping himself, he is able to help the poor (Ephesians 4:28).

The Lord, through Joseph, instructed pharaoh that he should prepare for the years of future famine by saving in the years of plenty. Joseph advised the king that during the seven years of superabundance, a fifth part of the harvest should be levied, as a tax, and stored up throughout the country (Genesis 41:17-36). Joseph’s counsel was so sound that the king appointed him as minister of food and granted him emergency powers. He recognized that Joseph was “a man in whom the Spirit of God [’Elohim] is” (Genesis 41: 16, 25, 28, 32).

Trust in God – Help the Needy

Some take the desire to accumulate wealth for retirement to an extreme and live solely for selfish purposes without sharing their resources with the needy. Jesus warned against such efforts in the story of the Parable of the Rich Fool. The rich fool said, “‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” (Luke 12:18-20).

The rich fool felt certain that he has enough to last for his retirement and he planed to spend his days in luxurious living forgetting God and his fellow men (Luke 15:13; Ecclesiastes 8:15). He was truly unwise for anyone who thinks only of himself lacks compassion (Luke 11:40). The gospel of the kingdom is designed to take men’s thoughts away from self and direct them to service.

Our trust should not be in retirement plans (401(k)s, bonds, stocks, etc.) but in doing God’s will. Jesus said, ”But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The great goal in man’s life should be that he would “seek the Lord, if haply” he “might feel after him, and find him” (Acts 17:27).

There is no such thing as secure retirement, apart from God and doing His will. The best cure for selfishness and future worry is commitment to God. If we work hard and make the kingdom of heaven first in our thoughts and lives, God will take care of us. He will graciously “anoint” our heads with oil, and our cup of experience will overflow with good things (Psalms 23:6).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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