I Can’t Wait to Retire
October 4, 2009
Introduction: A guy was talking about retirement with a friend at breakfast. He said he was quite excited about the prospect. He was looking forward to the end of his career and related a conversation that he had with his wife that morning.
“My wife asked, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I told her, ‘I’m going to sit on the couch and watch TV all day every day.’”
His friend was quiet and rather pensive about what he had just heard. Finally, the friend said, “If you do that, you’ll be dead in a year.” The man looked at his friend and said, “Why?” Without missing a beat, his friend replied, “If the lack of purpose in life doesn’t kill you first, your wife will.”
Transition: Tonight, we celebrate a retirement for Steve Gittings. It’s more like a transition, but it got me thinking about the purpose of our lives. When can we retire as believers? Not until we complete at least these six work items on God’s punch list…
Reach the Lost
18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
· As believers, God reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, our Savior. As soon as we were saved, we were given the ministry of reconciliation. It is the word of reconciliation …a word we speak.
· As ambassadors for Christ, we are responsible to plead with others as though God were pleading through us. The trespasses of men need not be imputed to them; Christ has paid their debt and offered his righteousness. Men need this message.
· When Paul was Saul and persecuting the church at Jerusalem, the believers scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Acts 8.1 notes the apostolic exception. The believers were scattered but the apostles stayed. Acts 8.4 states that those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word. For those of us that think it’s the pastor’s duty to evangelize the lost, remember that among the scattered, the apostles were absent. Each of us is an ambassador. All of us need to reach the lost!
Transition: So, as soon as we finish the first work item on the list by reaching all the lost people around us, then we can retire. But there is still a second item…
Edify the Found
14I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
16Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
· The word edify in this text comes from a Greek word (oikodomei) that literally refers to the construction of a building. It is to make something more able. The Greek antonym for this word (kathairesis) means to weaken or undermine.
· The word means communicates the idea of building up a brother in the text not weakening his resolve to be faithful. How many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are grieved because of actions …because we are no longer walking in love.
· We have a responsibility to make sure that we don’t destroy the one for whom Christ died. The kingdom of God is…
o Righteousness - All things made right; all things are right.
o Peace - Cessation of eternal hostility caused by our self-trust; cessation of temporal anxiety caused by our self-trust
o Joy in the Spirit - True joy is found in a settled resolved to do right by others and serve them.
· Our pursuit in the temporal life we live must include a pursuit for the things which make for peace and the things which edify one another.
Transition: So, when you’re done edifying believers that God brings into your life, then you can retire. But there is still yet a third item on our punch list…
Teach All Things
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
· The authority for fulfilling the command to make disciples comes from Jesus. It was given to Him. Therefore, with that authority, he commands us.
· Making disciples includes reaching the lost and baptizing new converts. It also includes teaching these new believers to observe everything Christ commanded His disciples. It’s all in the Gospels and by extension the whole of the Bible. How long you think that’ll take?
· The power and strength to pursue this task comes from the presence of the Lord Himself!
Transition: You can retire as soon as you finish teaching those you lead to Christ all things. But, lo and behold, there is a fourth item on the list…
Intercede for Others
1Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
· Enemy, friend, brother, president, pastor, and all - we have a responsibility to persist in our intercessory prayer for them.
· God has given us the great privilege to intercede for others. It is a privilege we take too lightly because we just don’t believe anything will happen. How do I know this? Steve has been faithful to our Men’s Prayer Meeting since its inception. Ask him tonight what has been the major challenge regarding this time. I know what he’ll say. He’ll say, “I wish more of our men would come.”
Transition: So, as soon as you’re done with your fourth work item on the punch list, you’ll be ready for retirement. But there is a fifth…
Repent from Sins
9Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11
· We need daily, godly sorrow that leads to repentance and daily deliverance from sin.
· What accompanies a willingness to turn from sin to God?
o The production of diligence
o Clearing and cleansing
o Righteous indignation for sin that destroys
o Fear - the godly sort that keeps us from falling for fear of our Father
o Vehement Desire - the righteous sort that aligns with God’s will
o Zeal - fervent, bubbling over with energy from God’s Spirit
o Vindication - if not now, it will come in that great Day
Transition: So when you stop sinning, you can stop repenting and then retire! But there is still this one last work item on our punch list…
Earn Eternal Rewards
Revelation 22 talks about the beauty of Heaven, the throne of God, and the presence of the Lamb and His servants. It’s eternal retirement. It’s a place where we will see the face of the Lamb and His name shall be on our foreheads. There is no night, no need for artificial light, and no one that will vie for our affections.
Jesus comes quickly. His reward is with Him to “give to every one according to his work” (v. 12). That means the unjust (v. 11) who are unjust still will be judged for the filthy works they bring before the Lamb. The unjust will earn what they’ve worked all their lives for - they’ll retire in Hell!
But the righteous are righteous still (v. 11). They to will earn what they’ve worked for. Every thing that they’ve ever done for Christ will be rewarded and noticed. They will earn an eternal reward - they’ll retire in Heaven; in the presence of the One who delivered them!
Conclusion: So, are you ready to RETIRE?? Reach the Lost, Edify the Found, Teach All Things, Intercede for Others, Repent from Sins, and Earn Eternal Rewards. When you’ve done all this, you can truly R-E-T-I-R-E! I have a book in my library that was written by J. Oswald Sanders. It is entitled Spiritual Leadership. Let me tell you about this man…
Sanders was nearing his ninetieth birthday when he died, working on his last book. Before he was 50, he was afflicted with arthritis so badly that he could hardly get out of bed. He could have taken a nice retirement. Instead he entered the most productive time of his life.
At age 50 he left a prosperous career as an attorney in New Zealand to lead the China Inland Mission. Remarkably, as he entered his second and third careers he was totally freed from arthritis.
After several years of leading the mission, he retired, only to take on the directorship of a Christian college. Then he retired again. A widower twice, he certainly deserved a rest. But rather than taking it easy, he accelerated, spending his last 20 years speaking around the world over 300 times per year. His respect grew even though he never sought the limelight or tried to maintain his position.
All this to say that Steve won’t really ever retire. None of us will. We have purpose that is eternal. We have been created by God, given a stewardship, and it’s over when we cross over into our eternal rest and retirement.
Hymn: When We All Get to Heaven (498)