Be As Wise As An Ant

“Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer;

(Proverbs 30:24-25)

The ant is an amazing creature to watch. They seem to have an endless amount of energy as they go about their work looking for food. When I was a kid I enjoyed watching them, but as I got older not so much as they seemed to enjoy slipping into my house on their trek for food. Though I find them somewhat of a nuisance now, I still can’t help but be amazed at how they work.

The ant is not a strong creature per say, but they are wise and are persistent in continuing to move forward even when there is an obstacle in their path. As soon as the sun comes out and the warmer weather hits, they are out of their nests and working at finding food for their colony not only for the summer months but for the coming winter as well. They seem to have a lot of endurance to travel long distances through difficult terrain (well, as difficult as it can get for an ant). Obstacles are no match for the ant. There were times I would put my foot in front of a line of ants to see what they would do. I watched as they went from one direction to another looking for a way around my foot and some brave ones even began climbing onto my foot, determined to continue on with the mission of locating food for their colony. Nothing stopped them.

We can learn so much from ants, from how they live to their work ethics. Ants have the future in mind. When times are good (summer) they work long and hard to obtain their food for the current time and the winter months instead of taking a break to relax because they know there are many mouths to feed all year long. They know if they slack off, there are going to be some starving ants. When the cold hits and times are tough (winter), they burrow deep within the ground, amongst other places, to stay warm. They have enough food to get them through the long winter months until the sun comes out and the warm weather hits.

However, I find the most amazing thing about ants is how they work together for their colony. Each colony is a close knit family and family comes first. They work together like a well-oiled machine. They divide up the labor where certain ants do different jobs. Younger ants work inside the nest while older ants work outside the nest to gather food and protect the nest against enemies. The queen ant, despite her size and title, does not micromanage the ants working for her. Instead, the workers decide which job to do based on their personal preference, how they work with other ants in the nest and cues from the environment. Proverbs 6:6-8 gives us a glimpse of this:

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

It’s amazing that the ant has no one in charge of them to tell them what to do. They communicate with each other to coordinate their activities, never having to raise their voices but instead emit chemicals with different messages. Once they know what their job is, they just do it without having someone continuously reminding them or checking up on them. If they come up against difficult problems, they process the information as a group and resolve it. They know that their hard work in good times (summer) will pay off in the colder, more difficult times (winter). They invest for the future knowing they are not just taking care of themselves, but those in the colony as well.

Whether protecting their colony or going out to hunt, one ant alone can’t do much but a colony of ants is a force to be reckoned with.

All of this can apply to our spiritual life as well. Let’s take a look and see how it can apply:

  1. Even when times are good, we must continue meeting with God, praying and reading the Word to store up reserve strength when difficulties hit.
  2. We must do our part in spreading the gospel and not rely on everyone else to do it.
  3. We must not expect everyone to help us in our time of need yet neglect to help others when they are in time of need. We must help others whenever it’s possible.
  4. We must do our share of the work whether it’s at home, work or church, instead of finding a way to get out of it. This puts more strain and work on others.
  5. We must not fall apart when obstacles hit and times are tough. Like the ant, we must proceed forward, finding a way past the problem. We must be patient, persistent and endure the problem until God provides a solution.
  6. We must not allow distractions such as tv, cellphones, computers, sports, games, etc, to lead us away from our responsibilities and the work God has entrusted us to do.
  7. We must work diligently without being reminded to do our job.
  8. We must prepare for emergencies and the future through hard work, saving and investing. We must not have the mindset that if something happens, others will take care of us.
  9. We must work together to get the job done be it in the family, the workplace or in the church. Every person has a place in this life and is needed. In the body of Christ, every part of the body is needed. When a piece is missing, the body does not work well and becomes strained and off balance. When we do our part, much gets accomplished.

Taking time off and relaxing is not a bad thing. Having a drink, playing a computer game, surfing the net, enjoying a hobby or playing sports is not a bad thing. The problem comes when it begins to consume us and we allow it to take priority over our responsibilities or we allow it to isolate us. The problem comes when we allow it to take the place of our family. An even worse problem, however, is when we allow it to become our god and we put God on the backburner. Eventually we will begin to suffer the consequences of our actions. In the physical we may not be ready for emergencies, to help others or fail to save money to support ourselves when we get older. Although our thoughts about money should not consume us, the Bible gives wise advice about working, saving and investing.

We must be careful not to become like the sluggard and slack off. A sluggard is someone who is lazy or habitually inactive. Due to their lack of responsibility, they bring hardship not only to themselves, but to their families, co-workers, or church family in not working to provide the help and provision that is needed in the way of finances, time, or support. Others will have to work harder when we fail to do our part as work may not get done in time. Spiritually, when we fail to give God time through prayer and reading the Word of God, more of the world is able to slip inside us and when hard times hit, we will be unable to handle it. We won’t be able to endure the hardship very long and soon fear and desperation will set in causing us to make dangerous mistakes which could affect those around us.

It’s very important that when we have times of peace, that we continue working diligently both in the physical and the spiritual. Though God will provide for us, we must do our part to learn and prepare. We must not only feed and exercise our bodies physically but spiritually as well, to remain strong and healthy. We must make time to be with God to communicate with Him and receive direction for the day or when we have problems. We must pray and read the Word daily, which will bring wisdom and knowledge on top of spiritual strength and healing. Though we are to work, we can’t forget about proper rest. God set the example by resting on the seventh day after he created the world. He knew the value of rest and so should we. Instead, we sometimes fill up every hour of our day until bedtime with needless activities instead of allowing ourselves to wind down and head to bed at a proper time. There are many health benefits from receiving proper rest such as an alert mind. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be alert:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

We can’t be alert if we are always tired from a lack of proper sleep and rest.

Take time today to think about whether you are as wise as an ant or if you are more of a sluggard. Ask the Lord to show you where you need to change, then make it a goal to change. You won’t be able to change all at once, but working on one or two areas at a time will enable you to become more like the wise ant, prepared and ready in good times and bad.