No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly Psalm 84:11
Withhold – Start now! Save. Watch your resources carefully. Retirement, the golden age of relaxation, is a big seller these days. Entire communities are billed as “retirement living.” The advertisement on the radio says, “Will you outlive your money or will your money outlive you?” You have to plan ahead, right? (Of course, even if you have a lot of money when you die, it isn’t yours anymore, is it?)
God has a retirement plan too. But it’s not heaven. God’s retirement plan has a slightly shorter focus – tomorrow! God deals in the reality of life today, not in the mythology of life at some future “retirement” age. From God’s perspective, retirement is a fiction of the imagination. Once I become a follower of Jesus, I never retire. I might move to another location (called heaven), but I will be serving and working forever. There’s no shuffleboard in heaven (and there aren’t any driving license eye exams either).
This verse tells us everything we need to know about God’s version of retirement. God withholds nothing from those who walk uprightly. You don’t have to save for centuries. You are not required to set up an IRA. You don’t need a pension. God gives it all, all the good stuff. He is the guarantor of goodness.
To see just how comprehensive God’s control over life really is, we need to look at a few instances of this Hebrew word, mana’ (no, it’s not the same as manna from heaven). This Hebrew verb means, “to keep away, to withhold, to deny.” God kept Rachel from becoming pregnant (Genesis 30:2). He held back rain as a warning of judgment (Amos 4:7). Wisdom and understanding are withheld from evil people (Job 38:15). And it is a mistake to withhold discipline from a child (Proverbs 23:13). There is a lot under the umbrella of good things God does not withhold. Try making a list sometime. Actually, today would be a good day to do this. Start with the fact that you can see this text. God did not withhold sight from your eyes nor thoughts from your mind. He was under no obligation to provide any of this, or any of the hundreds of gifts we take for granted each day, but He gave anyway.
Since God gives every good thing to those who walk uprightly, the only critical issue for retirement is how you walk. All the of the rest is up to God. The truth behind God’s version of retirement planning is that you have no control at all over the span of your life. If you don’t do today what should be done of the Kingdom, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will have tomorrow to do what should have been done today. Take a look at Proverbs 3:27. Today is a lo mana day – a day of not withholding. The day is coming when God will remove the lo (not) in that phrase and suddenly something else will not be withheld – His judgment. Today, my friend, is the only day of your life. Today God delivers all good things.
QUESTION: So, you might be inclined to ask, “Does this mean that I should not be saving for retirement?” NO, not exactly. What it means is that if I think that my saving for retirement is the solution to my financial needs, I am greatly mistaken. If I think that retirement means vacation from God’s employment, I am mistaken. If I think that my financial nest egg is what life is about, I am mistaken. And if I am planning and saving in order to take care of me, then I have missed what God has in mind. The only purpose of financial retirement is to make myself of more use to the kingdom. If God wants and asks me to plan for financial retirement, then by all means I must do so. But doing so simply because the culture tells me it is the prudent and self-sustaining thing to do is not the right motive. Motive before action, always! And motive must be driven my God’s word to me, not by my design for myself.