I recently had the opportunity to discuss my pastor’s sermon on our church podcast. I think I was set up because one of the questions I had to answer was something like, “What is retirement for the Christian?” Just in case you didn’t know, I retired from the school district officially as of May 31st. I count my real retirement dates as August 12th – two days from now – because that’s when teachers go back to school. Does retirement mean “doing nothing?” Does it mean, “hitch up the travel trailer honey, we’re on the road?” As I thought about this question before and during the podcast, I realized that as I understand retirement it’s not so much leaving a job as it is changing ministry. While I will be taking time to write during retirement, I will also be doing other volunteer work to help my community and in so doing, be an example of the love of Christ.
Let’s face it: My wife and I have received many blessings throughout our lives, but especially recently. God has blessed us far more than we deserve. What so many people seem to miss about God’s blessings is that they are not a “reward” for good behavior. Instead they are meant to empower us to greater service. The sermon that provoked this discussion was on the rich man who had such great crops that he “needed” to build bigger barns to hold everything and had decided to sit back and relax. (Earlier in this chapter) In short, the guy did nothing wrong to get the blessings. The problem is that he forgot this fundamental principle that Jesus taught: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b)
We run into a comparison problem in America. We recognize that we are sinners, but none of us is a bad as “THAT guy.” We recognize that God has blessed us, but not as much as “THAT guy.” We like to look at the extreme examples when faced with a biblical directive and think that we must be ok because “THAT guy” is so much worse, or so much more blessed, or so much more extreme like God/unlike God than we are. We absolve ourselves of the responsibility to seek/need God’s grace and the responsibility to act upon God’s blessings because others fit the narrative so much better than we do. We forget that in God’s economy He holds each of us responsible for our own reaction to His grace and His blessings. (Need I mention John 21:22?) We must recognize that we have been given grace to forgive our rebellion against God – we have been entrusted with much. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, safe hot and cold running water – we have been given much. Because we have been given much, much will be demanded of us; because we have been entrusted much, much more will be asked of us.
This is our reason and our basis for ministry. We are called to be witnesses, ministers, at work or at play, at work or in retirement. So many of those that are around us wherever we are need to know and understand the grace of God; I can honestly say that you don’t need to pray about your response: God wants you to show them that grace. So many around us are in great need; again, I can honestly say that you don’t need to pray about your response: God wants you to help meet those needs. God is not concerned with how big your car or your house is, He is concerned with how big your heart is. Make today the day that you truly understand how much God has given you so that you can give to others.
Lord, I am so rich materially and so poor spiritually. Help me to learn that I will grow rich spiritually as I serve You by loving others with Your love. I will gain far more by giving away Your grace and giving from what You have given to me materially than I will gain by isolating myself from the world You died for.