Bible Verse: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18)

Scripture Reading: Psalm 71:1-24

The theme of lifelong serving means serving God throughout a person’s life, from the time he/she becomes a Christian to the end of his/her life regardless of age. Lifelong serving appears to stand in contrast to retirement from serving. To many people, the idealized image of retirement is to do what you feel like doing when you want to do it. Being stress-free and enjoying leisure time are key elements because retirement is considered to be a just reward for a lifetime of hard work. There is no shortage of suggestions on how to retire in the literature: financial planning, vacation planning, travelling, starting a new hobby, or even sitting on the porch, sleeping, and doing nothing.

The Bible’s teaching is against idle living. According to Ps. 71, seniors should continue to witness for God to the younger generation: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come (Ps. 71:18). They can be productive: “They shall bring forth fruit in old age …” (Ps. 92:14), and are also full of wisdom: “I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom” (Job 32:7). Elderly men and women have a responsibility to guide and teach the younger generation how to live by setting an example (Titus 2:1-5). These so-called “aged saints,” having spent a lifetime walking closely with God, are able to relate and testify to the truths of God’s Word working in their lives. The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians that we have to redeem the time that has been given to us: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16) and this means that we must take hold of every opportunity we have to serve the Lord. Indeed, the third quarter of life, often marked by retirement from necessary employment, opens the door to focusing one’s efforts towards serving God and humanity in new endeavours, enlarging one’s horizons and fulfilling dreams not previously realized.

The reference closest to retirement mentioned in the Bible is found in Numbers 8:24-26. This passage indicates that these Levites, though instructed to retire from their regular service, did not retire from serving the Lord. At the age of fifty, they exchanged their work related activities from serving laboriously to one of advising and assisting a younger generation. A life lesson drawn from their situation suggests that one should not ask whether one should retire or continue working, but rather “How can my life best give glory to God as I age?”

— Gerald K. Chan in Serving in the Golden Years: The Tribe of Caleb
© 2016 by Gerald K Chan. Used by permission.

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