There’s an American tradition that was introduced in the late 1800’s that has many striving for the wrong goal – retirement. While some may find it appealing to quit the world and sit on the front porch in a rocking chair, or play golf for 20 years, I do not find any references in the Bible to support such goals.
The Bible speaks about this attitude, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” - 2 Timothy 3: 1-5
The Bible does not speak about people of faith retiring from service, in fact it says the opposite in James 2:20 “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph found a wonderful woman named Anna, still serving the Lord well into her 80’s, “She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” - Luke 2:36-37
Time is the most precious gift God has given us outside of salvation through Jesus Christ. If we are able to work all of our life to finally be able to spend each day free of the burden of a time clock, may I suggest that we all turn our efforts toward serving God and man with that free time as Anna did.
Consider several other “senior citizens” like Anna from Bible history:
Noah lived over half his life before he had kids. God called Noah to build the ark AFTER Noah’s kids were born. None of us would be here today if Noah had told God, “I’ve done my time, find someone else.” He was old, but he did not quit!
Moses was a great leader who did not get the call to rescue the slaves from Egypt until he was 80 years old. He worked another 40 years after parting the Red Sea, to lead God’s people to the shores of the Promised Land. When he died, “His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.” - Deuteronomy 34:7
Caleb was 85 years old when he was among the few of the older generation to enter the Promised Land. He said of himself, “As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” - Joshua 14:11. He not only reached his goal, but continued to fight for many years to defend what God had given them.
I am acquainted with an older gentleman who reminds me of Caleb. He is 84 years old, still has a business card and is ready to work in a moments notice. He volunteers at the local food pantry, is faithful to his church and he gives God all the glory for his long life. I find him to be very a great example of this teaching.
In churches across America I hear our great generation of seniors reciting from the same playbook, “I paid my dues. I’m not serving anymore.” After 40 years of Christian service, our seniors are quitting. I exhort you – DON’T QUIT SERVING GOD! The next generation needs your wisdom. Bite your tongue if the music, clothing and decoration is not your style, but speak loudly with your Godly and Biblical experience. Work alongside the pastor, not against him. After 40 years in Church you are old enough to feed rather than waiting to be fed.
Why did God put us through all the experiences and trials in our long lives? So “…that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” - 2 Corinthians 1:4. I know that I could not minister to someone who had lost their mother, until I had lost mine. I could not minister to someone who is jobless unless I had become suddenly without a job. Think of all the experiences and comfort you can share if you don’t quit!
Likewise, we cannot teach of the forgiveness of God, unless we ourselves have experienced it.
Be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
Pastor Jay Merritt