The ”Fountain of All Good” in Retirement


There are many good things about retirement. Some examples are more free time and greater flexibility in how we spend our time, less stress from work pressures, and more opportunities to give of our time, talents, and treasure, to name a few.

These are all “good” in that they add fun, fulfillment, and joy to our lives, each in its own way.

The Bible teaches us that God owns and controls everything and that all the good things we have given come from him (James 1:17). Therefore, he has the right to tell us what to do with them (Ps. 24:1, Eph. 1:3).

God instructs us to receive and use what we have been given with gratitude and thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:4) and to utilize it for our good (1 Tim. 6:17, Eccl. 5:19 ), the good of others (1 Pet. 4:10), and the glory of God (Mt. 6:19-20).

Yes, you read that right. I also believe that God is pleased when we use these things for our good, including our pleasure and enjoyment while on earth.

God is glorified when we use what he has provided according to biblical principles. This means using our financial resources to provide for ourselves (and our families, if we have one), to enjoy God’s good gifts, which include nature and material things (in moderation, of course), and mainly when we use them to bless others (generosity).

This leads to a life of joy, peace, contentment, gratitude, trust, and love. If, instead, we pursue ”treasure” (material wealth) for its own sake, we’re pursuing false riches, and our lives will be marked by pride, covetousness, fear, and indifference, fostering separation from God and the true joy and peace He offers.

All of this supports the statement that money is morally neutral but can be used for good, and one of the “goods” of money that some retirees don’t fully understand or embrace is that God wants us to enjoy the money he gives us to manage, and that includes the money you spend on yourself.

You may think, “Wow, I like to spend money, but I tend to feel guilty when I spend money on myself. Where can we find this so-called permission to enjoy money in the Bible?” I could point you to some of the verses I listed earlier, with the caveat that some were written in different contexts but are still applicable today.

But I listed one in the book of the Bible that’s considered the most depressing one (Google it!)—Ecclesiastes. (The problem people have with Ecclesiastes is that the writer spends a lot of time saying that everything is “meaningless,” “chasing after the wind,” “a serious problem,” etc.).

But amid these depressing observations (which describe a life lived apart from God), the writer drops a few little breadcrumbs of hope. In Eccl. 5:19, the writer says, “. . . God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them…this is the gift of God.”

What? That doesn’t sound so depressing. Notice that this enjoyment is not only allowed but should be received as a direct and active “gift” from God. There’s also the verse in 1 Tim. 6:17, where Paul instructs us not to “set our hopes on riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

Just so there is no confusion, although the verse in Ecclesiastes seems to refer to money and material possessions, 1 Tim. 6:17 seems broader, referring to both God’s physical and spiritual gifts. I’m reminded of what Peter wrote emphasizing spiritual things:

“May grace and peace abound in you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. By his divine power he has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us for his own glory and excellence, by which he has given us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:2-4, ESV)

I’m not suggesting that money should be the primary source of joy in our lives. Nor do I believe that our joy comes only from spending money on ourselves; it also includes spending it on others and investing in eternity.

But we can enjoy the Lord’s blessings without fear, guilt, or shame. Spending helps us enjoy money in the present. Saving and investing help us enjoy money in the future. And giving helps us enjoy money in eternity. As we learn to enjoy money by spending smarter and avoiding debt, saving and investing wisely, and having fun with giving, we’ll want to do more of each!

We have some freedom in how we enjoy our money, but that doesn’t mean we’re free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we want to be good stewards, so we commit ourselves, our money, and our possessions to God (Luke 14:33). We renounce the LOVE of money, the WORSHIP of money. We may do this at conversion as part of our repentance, but it’s not a “one-and-done” thing. We must do it every day. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus tells us we cannot serve God and money.

If we keep our hearts turned toward God (this is the key), we can spend without guilt and enjoy the fruit of our labor. Remember 1 Tim. 6:17 (chapter 6 is a fantastic chapter on giving), where Paul says that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

Yes, we need to pay attention to the first part of verse 17 (not to set our hope on riches), but my emphasis is on the significance of the last part: Every good gift that God gives us is for our enjoyment.

The ”abundant fountain of all goods”

If we focus mainly on the gifts we’ve been given, we can quickly overlook the ultimate, all-encompassing goodness of the give: God.

The phrase “God is good” is commonly used by Christians. We tend to recite it when we experience positive events, such as a job promotion and raise, the healing of a loved one, the birth of a child, or the marriage of two godly people.

While it’s right and proper to acknowledge and thank God for his goodness toward us and the good gifts we receive from his goodness, we can sometimes be too quick to thank Him while forgetting that God is the greatest good of all.

If we don’t grasp that God is supremely, ultimately, eternally, totally, and exclusively good, we forfeit the true joy and happiness we were created and redeemed, which is to know him and his goodness.

Herman Bavinck, the Dutch theologian, opens his theological compilation, “The Wonderful Works of God,” with this statement:

”God, and God alone, is man’s highest good. In a general sense, we can say that God is the highest good of all His creatures. For God is the sustainer and creator of all things, the source of all being and of all life, and the abundant fountain of all goods” (1).

What does “greatest good” mean? Originally derived from the Latin “summum bonum,” it means “the highest good from which all others are derived.” In essence, God is the source and sustainer of all goodness. As Bavinck asserts, he is “the abundant source of all goods. True goodness cannot be produced by anything in the universe unless it emanates from our great and good Creator God.”

I love his phrase, “for God is . . . the abundant fountain of all goods.” God is the good of all goodness. Therefore, we enjoy God’s good gifts, but our greatest joy is to experience the goodness that God both emanates and imparts from Himself. He reveals a goodness that we can recognize, understand, and experience.

Bavinck says that God is “unchangeable, eternal and omnipresent, but also wise and mighty, just and holy, gracious and merciful” (120). To explain, he uses the example of God’s love. According to Bavinck, we can know something about God’s love because he has revealed it to us as it has a weak and pale resemblance to human love. But, unlike human love, God’s love is “independent, unchangeable, simple, eternal, and omnipresent” (121).

God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), and he has demonstrated his love to us. And because God is love, He is good. Love is the essence of God’s character, and he is good at the core of his being; he is good in and of himself. He is not good because he does good things or gives us good gifts; he does good things because he is good. God also demonstrated his love “. . . in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

Because God loves and is good, he is also kind, graceful, merciful, and compassionate (Ps. 145:9). His goodness and mercy are endless. He is always ready and willing to forgive our sins and restore us to fellowship with Himself based on the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:9).

God is good in many other ways. He is faithful and true (Nah. 1:7), and He can be trusted to keep his promises (2 Cor. 1:20, 2 Pet. 3:9). God is almighty (Ps. 46:11); he can do anything and everything he wants.

Live in his goodness

Unfortunately, because of sin, humanity repressed our knowledge of the goodness of God. Paul explains this in Romans 1. Although we are born with an innate sense of God’s goodness, we don’t acknowledge it or worship God as the source of all good (Romans 1:21).

From the beginning, Scripture associates “good” with God’s creative work. The word “good” appears seven times in the first chapter of Genesis alone.

In the New Testament, Jesus goes so far as to declare that only God is good, emphasizing that God is our ultimate and perfect good (Mark 10:18). Throughout the Bible, we encounter God’s good deeds, gifts, works, promises, commands, and even His providence, which assures us that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).

John Piper is often quoted as saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Building on this and paraphrasing Piper, I would say, “His glory shines in our enjoying of his goodness when our joy is in him. And since God is the source of all good, and since his goodness and glory are the most satisfying gift he could possibly give us, the kindest and most loving thing he could ever do is to reveal his goodness through his Son Jesus Christ to magnify himself for our everlasting joy.

May we enjoy God’s good gifts in retirement as we continually experience our greatest joy in his glorious goodness.


👋 Hi, I’m Chris Cagle, the founder of Retirement Stewardship, a blog that focuses on the various aspects of retirement from a Christian stewardship perspective (1 Peter 4:10).

I write as a retiree who is dealing with the things I write about. I base most of the articles on my research and experience applying it to my situation and how it might apply to yours.

If you’re new here, check out the site introduction for an overview. You can also learn more about me.


My Books

Redeeming Retirement: A Practical Guide to Catch Up (2021)
The Minister’s Retirement (2020)
Reimagine Retirement: Planning and Living for the Glory of God (2019)