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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Its Easy to Become a Slave in the Lap of Luxury

Genesis 49:15 (ESV)
15 He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor.


This is the story of the tribe of Issachar. They had settled in a very fertile plain. The tribe set its shoulder to producing an abundance of crops and living the good life. However, this lifestyle tempted them to buy peace from invaders in order to continue in the "good life." Thus, they were in continual jeopardy for life and property. They became slaves to their luxurious lifestyle.

This made me think of retirement. I will turn sixty this year. The expected retirement age in America is somewhere between sixty and seventy. I have put money in a retirement account, though not enough to retire right away.

I just spent ten days on vacation. My wife and I gathered with our three daughters, son-in-law and grandson in Palm Springs, CA. My son-in-laws family was also there. Each day I got up when I wanted to and spent some time with our family. I didn't have anything that I had to do. I just did what I wanted. In a few days it became extremely boring.

Fortunately, I was able to return to work before what I started to fall into this lifestyle. I admit, getting up when you want and doing whatever you want each day is enticing. However,  I am afraid that I would begin to love this lifestyle and put myself in a position that I am willing to sell out my principles in order to maintain it. I would become afraid of every rumor which threatened this lifestyle. I would vote for the candidates who promised to keep me in my luxury. I would trade away my convictions for my way of life. I would become a slave in retirement.

Now, I know retirement can be a good thing. Many people are able to do constructive things they were never able to do when they kept a regular job. The hospitals would be hard pressed to continue the services they provide if not for retired people volunteering to serve. Yes, even our church benefits from those who are retired. They work the food pantry, answer the phones, stick tabs on the ends of the newsletters and perform all sorts of tasks for the church. These people have learned that a retirement without service is empty. They have a plan and they are not a slave to the world around them. They are still serving their Lord with great effectiveness.

The point is that luxury can result in slavery. Those who retire need a plan. They need to continue to serve somewhere. They can't stop listening to God, stop serving, sit and pew and grow as  believers. Too many of those who have retired from the church become bitter with the church because they believe they are entitled to services. They do not understand that the service we give each other is an act of grace rather than an act of obligation. They do not understand that each person must listen to God, go where He leads and do what He has called them to do. There is no end to this lifestyle and it is never boring.

There will be a day when I cannot be effective doing what I am doing now. I know this but I am also realizing that living a life without service will lead me to slavery.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

I could see your coming to the typical age of retirement, but it intrigues me you have chosen Gen 49:14-15 to go with your entry, and title of your entry. This text is ambiguous; and is variedly interpreted (quite variedly!).

Let me say that your thinking of retiring and at the same time NOT wishing to cease to do good, and still holding to “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, is commendable. The Apostle Paul said it, in Acts 20:35 that, that was Jesus’ words.

Remember, you, in one of your recent entries, talked about works as a means of worshipping God, as such, since we are to worship the Lord all our life, if we can still employ works as a means, we should. Sure, there may come a time, when our physical limitation will hinder us doing certain works; that God knows. What is more important is we continue to worship and please Him, with whatever limitations we may come to carry. Until, we are called home, as sons and daughters who love Him, we should continue to give of ourselves to serve, as enabled by Him. We believe God for His grace, and so, we can and should remain gracious in life, until the end. It is more blessed to give than to receive, even to the very end; oh I want it to sink in, deeper and deeper, in my own soul.

Ps Prentis, if you like (others, too), hop over to read the article I put up after my study of the text of Gen 49:14-15, even as I read of it here, being quoted by you - http://high-expressions.blogspot.sg/2014/01/issachar-spirit.html

Anthony Chia, high.expressions