“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and it shall be well with us,” the prophet Nephi warned that many would say in the latter days (2 Nephi 28:7). The philosophy goes that you should enjoy yourself and satisfy your appetites because life is short. And some would add that “you can always repent.” Others focus on contemporary definitions of success and chase whatever promises the most cash the fastest.
By contrast, Jesus taught, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19–20). In other words, make an investment of your time and energy in those things that will secure you a place with Him.
I attempted to convey this principle with the Parable of the Retirement Account. Matt and Rebekah represent members of the Church of Jesus Christ who establish their goal and take the steps necessary to obtain it. Their friends represent people of any faith or persuasion who direct their efforts in life toward temporary satisfaction at the expense of their success hereafter. The placing of funds in the retirement account represents the things we do to adhere to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another ancient prophet, Helaman, taught his sons to keep the commandments and declare the gospel, and he explained his reasons: “that ye may not do these things that ye may boast, but that ye may do these things to lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life” (Helaman 5:8). The things that Matt and Rebekah’s friends chased would fade away when it was time for their retirement, leaving them nothing concrete to show for all the fun they had over the years.
Thinking about Matt and Rebekah brought to mind Jesus’s Parable of the Laborers, which seems to paint a different picture. It could be argued that we don’t need to be so meticulous for so long; won’t we be paid equally no matter when we join Christ’s Church and cause, and so doing it early doesn’t really gain us anything? The Parable of the Laborers was given to believers, intended to give hope that they could obtain all that the Father has, even if they became His disciples late in life. It was also a lesson to those who would spend their lives following Him that one’s length of service in His kingdom doesn’t dictate the size of the reward. On the surface, that seems contradictory to what I’ve conveyed in the Parable of the Retirement Account.
The emphasis here is that at whatever point in life we commit ourselves to being Christ’s disciples, it’s essential to begin conscientiously making those decisions that will take us to the outcomes that He offers. (It is not intended to be a judgment on those who, for varying reasons, find saving for retirement difficult due to circumstances beyond their control.) For Matt and Rebekah, the beginning of their path was relatively early in life. This parable is about the careful planning and execution required to ensure the best outcome when life’s workday has ended. That planning and execution is needed regardless of how much time we may have in life after stepping on the straight and narrow path. And we need to be consistent, steadfast, or we run the risk of being in the “you can repent later” crowd.
The greatest part of saving for our “eternal retirement,” if you will, is the interest that accrues on our savings. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ adds upon everything we offer Him. Because of His infinite power, the return on investment is manifold what we, in good faith, contribute ourselves. In fact, because His power is infinite, we will live on the dividends “world without end” (Isaiah 45:17).
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