The Retirement Reformation Manifesto (part 6)

Principle #5: Love

We acknowledge that people matter to God and we cultivate our hearts for others.

The essence of God is love. Love is expressed in relationship and relationship lives in community. Here is the heart of the matter: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Does God love me and how do I respond to that love? Jeremiah 31:3 says: I have loved you with an everlasting love. 

Our response to this immense love is to love back and then reflect that love to others: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments embrace all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 112:28-34

These two complementary and inter-connected commands expand our understanding of how to live with God, ourselves, and each other. The older we grow, the greater the opportunity to understand the value and application of love in our lives.

One dividend of aging is the opportunity to grow both in spiritual and emotional maturity. Growing closer to God enhances wisdom and growing emotional maturity enhance relationships. We learn both the meaning and application of love.

Most of us have relationships that need work. There is a strained or separated relationship somewhere in our cupboard. Longevity allows us the additional time to grow emotionally and increase our ability to deal with, speak into, and re-connect with those estranged from us. In any circumstance, at least attempting to make those relationships whole will reflect God’s love for us now through us to others. This is more than just being nice—this is another version of loving your neighbor.

That neighbor may be a parent(s) or grandparent(s), sibling, son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, even great grandson or great granddaughter. Co-workers, past or present, business partners, or employees all come to mind as minefields of strained relationships. We can revitalize, or at least do our part to regenerate broken relationships using the increased emotional maturity available to us. We do it because he first loved us.

There once was a grumpy old man who managed to irritate just about everyone with his mistreatment, short temper, and cutting tongue. Over the years he became estranged from family, co-workers, and neighbors. As he grew older, he wondered why he had no friends. Loneliness set in and fear of the future exploded.

At a trip to the store, he met a woman who seemed to ooze kindness and love. Not wanting to live out his years alone, he adopted a new persona with her, they fell in love, and married. Then he resorted to his old and original behavior. She dragged him to church and to a small group. There he heard the two commandments and what they meant. Then he had a stroke and could not care for himself. As his wife cared for him and at this late stage in life, he both re-experienced love and started to learn what love meant. He softened and learned to love back. It’s never too late to love.

People matter to God and he’s demonstrated love in all ways possible.

The Retirement Reformation embraces that love and challenges us to reflect it in all we do. God loves us and prepares us for ongoing service, building his Kingdom here, now. As we answer the call and are faithful for a lifetime, we will experience love as fruits of the Spirit. What a blessing we have as Jesus followers during all the stages of life—especially during the last ones. 

Go to: RetirementReformation.org to review the Manifesto, sign, and join if you agree. Download a copy for your reference and acquire the Retirement Reformation book or one written by any one of our Retirement Reformation Roundtable members.

Bruce Bruinsma