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What does the Bible say about Retirement?

The Bible has a lot to say about money. There are approximately 2300 verses on this topic. Debt is covered in some very specific ways in the Bible. Investments are covered in some detail. Our Lord Jesus had a lot to say about investing, giving, and our attitude towards money.

But what does the Bible say about retirement? Does it tell us that we must work until we drop? Does it give us permission to work a career then live a life of leisure? The answer is neither. To my knowledge, there is only one section of verses that gives specific instructions about retirement:

 The Lord also instructed Moses, “This is the rule the Levites must follow: They must begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of twenty-five, and they must retire at the age of fifty. After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service. This is how you must assign duties to the Levites.” Numbers 8: 23-26.

These are very specific retirement instructions for the Priests of Israel. Wait a minute; does this mean that the Bible is telling us to retire at age 50? No, sorry, it is not saying that to you or me. We must look at this in context of when it was written, and then how does it instruct us today.

 These Levites had a very physical job and a job that required maturity. In short, their job required a young man’s strength and an old man’s wisdom, not an easy mixture. The Levite’s job was to perform the sacrifice in Israel, requiring the muscling and control of animals many times over. Also, they were the ministers, pastors in their community, caring for the people. At age 50, these men retired from the full service of officiating in the Tabernacle to assist their fellow Levites. Note, these men did not completely retire at age 50, but from the work of performing the sacrifice. At this age, they were full of wisdom, but probably had a few aches and pains that the strain of service made worse. They would semi-retire to an honored office, still ministering, both to the younger Levites and the people in their community. Matthew Henry wrote: “If God’s grace provides that men shall have ability according to their work, man’s prudence should take care that men have work only according to their ability. The aged are most fit for trusts, and to keep the charge; the younger are most fit for work, and to do the service.”

 What should we learn from this scripture today? First, God intends for us to work. Yet, He does not intend for us tear down our bodies beyond repair. Second, we can read in this passage specific permission to retire. Third, this retirement is not a lazy retirement in which we do nothing. These men still had work to do. They were needed, and they needed to be needed.

 We spend years in our careers so that we can provide for our families and raise them carefully. All the while we are looking forward to the day that we get to retire. At our firm, we specialize in helping our clients prepare for this retirement. Then we manage that retirement money. This is our work! We encourage you to seriously, prayerfully, even dream-fully consider your retirement. We also strongly encourage you to be active in your retirement, serve others. Someone desperately needs you to minister to them, and you need to be needed.

Investment advisory services offered through Sound Financial Strategies Group, Inc.("SFSG"), a Registered Investment Adviser.  Securities offered through Comprehensive Asset Management and Servicing, Inc., ("CAMAS") Member FINRA/SIPC.  SFSG and CAMAS are separate and unrelated companies. The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual and do not constitute an endorsement by CAMAS.

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