My first cellphone nature video, captured outside our house. Something (some bird?) dropped part of a wasp nest on our recycling can, and we saw a squirming wasp larva near it. I stepped outside a few minutes later and captured this scene.
Archive for the ‘personal’ Category
This post is part 3 in a series exploring the biblical principles around retirement and saving for retirement.
We have been trained in our culture and in our Christianity to value retirement. What does it mean to retire? To stop working.
To withdraw from one’s occupation, business, or office; stop working. – American Heritage Dictionary
Leave one’s job and cease to work, especially because one has reached a particular age. – Compact Oxford Dictionary.
Some declare the Bible has anything to say about retirement, thus it’s amoral and anything goes. While our translations of the Bible may not contain the word “retirement,” the Bible has a lot to say about work. Since retirement is simply to cease working, we must understand what the Bible teaches about work.
Why do we work?
Who should work?
How long should we work for?
Are we to cease working, and if so, when?
Work is not a curse. It’s tempting to think so because of the curse in Genesis 3:
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)
Work is referenced here, but Adam had already been put to work.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
(Genesis 2:15 ESV)
Further, Eve was created to help Adam.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 ESV)
Work was not the result of the curse. Work is an essential reason we exist. So what was cursed? Adam wasn’t cursed. The ground was.
Conclusion 1: When we choose to stop working, we’re going against how God created us to be.
Work is also one of the 10 commandments:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)
Humankind’s calling as seen in Adam is reconfirmed as a command here. One of the reasons we work is because it is commanded, as part of loving God. How is it loving God? By modeling our lives after him. God worked for 6 days and rested, so we are commanded to work for 6 days and take 1 day of rest, every day a reminder of God.
So we’ve seen 3 reasons to work from Genesis and Exodus:
- It’s how God created us to be.
- God commands us to.
- It is living a life modeled after God.
Conclusion 2: When we choose to stop working, we are considering ourselves exempt from God’s commands.
Conclusion 3: When we choose to stop working, we cease living a life modeled after God.
The New Testament reiterates the importance of working:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-11 ESV)
There’s multiple principles here: the importance of paying for what one uses; the importance of toil and labor; the consequence of not working is to become a busybody. The word “busybody” in the Greek is a hapax logomena, that is, a word only used once in the Bible, so the meaning isn’t totally clear. It may mean busying one’s self with non-work, such as a hobby; it may mean meddling in the affairs of others. One thing is certain from the context:
We become bad people when we choose to stop working.
Conclusion 4: When we choose to stop working, we ignore Paul’s warnings of what we will become.
Conclusion 5: When we choose to stop working, Christians should keep away from us. Yikes!
There is no biblical declaration that it is ever ok to choose to stop working. By holding to the idea that saving for a self-sufficient retirement is appropriate, we’re saying the rich can purchase exemption from God’s commands. Would we do this with any of the other 9 commandments? Is it okay for the rich hold another god before God? To steal? To dishonor their parents? To murder?
On passage that is used to justify retirement is the end of Numbers 8, which the ESV even subtitles “Retirement of the Levites:”
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
(Numbers 8:23-26 ESV)
The Levites were not to stop working! They were to stop doing service in the tent of meeting and change jobs to serve by keeping guard.
It’s quite true that we may not be able to go full pace at our jobs for our entire lives. The biblical response is not to stop working, but to find a new career that we can do well.
Choosing to stop work is in contradiction to the Bible.
Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment section. I’m just working out what all of this means and am writing up the biblical arguments as I see them. Please feel free to show where I’ve gone wrong.
Some time ago I wrote a series of posts about how people fail at arguing. I’m not saying that I never fail at arguing, but I try not to. There is an objective truth. Through study, thought, and dialog, we ought to be moving closer to that truth. Failing at arguing is usually disrespectful to others and works toward destroying the movement toward truth.
In “How to Fail at Arguing #4” I wrote about the argument “That just doesn’t make sense.” Today there was another sighting of this argument right here on the SecondJon blog!
Evidently not a long time reader of my blog, Thad left a comment last night failing in this way on my post about Jason Gray’s song that re-defines what it means to love God away from it’s biblical meaning. Thad wrote:
This comment thread blows my mind. The song could scarcely be more clear. The fact that it’s causing this sort of non-sensical dissension is going a long way toward proving his point I think. Some of these comments make it seem like folks are going out of their way to deliberately misunderstand the song. Wow. Just wow.
I’ve never seen the benefit of this style of argument: You disagree with me, therefore you’re nonsensical. You’re so dumb and I’m so brilliant, I can’t bear to bring myself to lower my mind to try to understand you.
It reminds me of an early scene of a movie I walked out of because of the crass humor – Anchor Man. Various characters are arguing about something and Steve Carell’s character yells “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!” In the end, it just makes him look like an idiot for yelling about not understanding what the other guys are saying.
For the benefit of others you are interacting, and for the benefit of firming up or refining what you think, it is worth the effort to figure out where someone else is coming from. How could you ever convince someone else that they’re wrong when you refuse to put any work into understanding what they think?
In addition to subverting any constructive conversation, it’s intellectually lazy.
If I say something that doesn’t make sense to you, think about it, ask for clarification. If you simply respond “you’re being non-sensical,” all you’re saying is that you’re lazy and it’s not worth continuing the conversation with you because you’ll pretend to or try to not understand. It’s the equivalent of plugging your ears and shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU, LA LA LA!”
here are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be concede to t
he mathematicians that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one. That is why, in spite of a hundred disadvantages, the world will always return to monogamy.
- G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday.
Starbucks doesn’t have the best tea, but I needed a place to finish reading a Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard prior to a discussion of it with some friends this evening, so here I am with the pictured cup of tea.
I normally buy a 1 tea bag venti (20 ounce cup for those who don’t speak Starbuckian). Starbucks had long been a chain that charged by the tea bag rather than the size of the cup our the amount of hot water they give you. This has changed, and a Grande will now cost you more than a Tall though both only have one tea bag.
Meanwhile, if you purchase with a registered Starbucks card, they’ll give you free refills with new tea bags. So a Tall refilled several times will use several tea bags and more water, but will cost less than one Grande with one tea bag.
Update: Apparently it depends on which batista you ask – I was just informed that I would be charged if I wanted more than hot water for my refill. Oooh, free water in America!
Here’s an excerpt from this excellent article by a father who himself was adopted when he was 1 1/2 about what he and other kids who were adopted struggle with.
I was adopted when I was 1 ½ years old. There aren’t many relevant details to tell about the actual adoption right now apart from the fact that I know (now) my biological mom loved me but couldn’t keep me, and my adoptive parents acquired me (and my twin sister) and grew to love me. My life has been pretty good. I’m a normal-ish person. I have no major quirks, and I’m happy. However, hindsight makes trials appear less rigorous than they actually are; I might have turned out differently had not a few things gone my way. Of course, everybody has hurdles in life that they must overcome; it’s not like adopted kids have it tough while everybody else gets a free ride. But, it is true that adopted kids have special issues that most kids will never have to deal with. They have to resolve feelings that most other kids don’t, and that necessitates a different kind of parenting.
I thought Starbucks was more politically correct, but they are now encouraging the consumption of Polar Bears.
This is a copy (without my full name and address) of an email I just sent to Staples.
I shop at Staples for office supplies, computer supplies, and have chosen staples as my source for purchasing very expensive equipment.
I read today (here: http://www.lifenews.com/nat6623.html) that Staples financially supports Planned Parenthood.
Like more Americans, according to Gallup, I believe that abortion is morally wrong because it is taking the life of a human (by scientific definition).
Because Planned Parenthood is in the business of promoting and providing abortions, I naturally have moral objections to my money being used to fund them.
Is it true that Staples supports Planned Parenthood? What is the nature of this support? Does a portion of my every purchase go toward funding Planned Parenthood? Is it a matching program where the Staples corporation matches contributions made by employees?
Please respond as soon as possible as whether I shop at Staples in the future depends on your response.
I am also posting this letter publicly online and will post your response as well.
Thank you for your time,
This is a copy (without my full name and address) of an email I just sent to Kohl’s department store’s community relations department.
Dear Kohls community relations:
I shop at Kohl’s for my clothes, shoes, towels, and other things. I am a Kohl’s card holder. We frequent Kohl’s for myself, my wife, and my children.
I read today (here: http://www.lifenews.com/nat6623.html) that Kohls financially supports Planned Parenthood.
Like more Americans, according to Gallup, I believe that abortion is morally wrong.
Because Planned Parenthood is in the business of promoting and providing abortions (which according to science is taking the life of a human) I naturally have moral objections to my money being used to fund abortion.
Is it true that Kohls supports Planned Parenthood? What is the nature of this support? Does a portion of my every purchase go toward funding Planned Parenthood? Is it a matching program where Kohls matches contributions made by employees?
Please respond as soon as possible as I need some new jeans, but whether I shop at Kohls in the future depends on your response.
I am also posting this letter publicly online and will post your response as well.
Thank you for your time,