Ants are a nuisance we all deal with at times. Yet there’s a lot we as Christians can learn from the little ant.
There are four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise; the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags; the locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks; the spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs:30:24-28).
I have no problems with rock badgers, locusts or spiders. Ants, however? That is another story. But first, what is Proverbs:30:24 trying to tell us by saying ants are exceedingly wise? Ants are just ants, aren’t they? They can be real pests if they get into your house. However, if we examine how ants go about surviving in a hostile world, we begin to see the wisdom of ants. For even though just about every creature is bigger and stronger than they are, they are great survivors.
How we live our lives carries over into our spiritual activities… We need to be diligent in all aspects of our lives to at least be considered wise as an ant.
Survival is a driving factor for all life on this planet. Without this powerful drive, all species would become extinct, because the odds are stacked against all of us. Thankfully, a wise and intelligent God has given all life the means of survival. And ants, being one of the smallest, are given an extra dose of wisdom for this purpose. Understanding this wisdom is a general lesson in survival for mankind, particularly when it comes to Christian spiritual survival.
This proverb, written by Agur, son of Jakur, calls ants exceedingly wise and a people not strong. But why would God refer to ants this way, unless it is to get our attention? And it should get our attention, because Christians are a people not strong that need to remember this world is hostile to the truth revealed in God’s Word and to those who live by it. And so God’s people are warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter:5:8).
Ants do what they can while they can
Notice that ants prepare their food in the summer. Ants don’t put off what they should be doing today until tomorrow. Tomorrow might be too late. They diligently go about their means of survival now, while they can. Sadly, many who want to be Christians keep putting off making the first step. The diligent study of the Bible, which provides spiritual food, in the summer of life while there is still time. None of us know what the autumn or winter of life may bring for us. Have you noticed how ants scurry about, searching every nook and cranny for food? We, too, should be searching every nook and cranny of God’s Word for the spiritual food God has provided for us.
Foraging ants pass food by a mouth-to-mouth process called trophallaxis. Christians have for centuries passed the truth of God from person to person. Few could afford the expense of having a personal hand-written copy of the Bible. Today, we can afford to have a Bible because of the printing press. But even today it is still important, indeed commanded, that Christians assemble themselves each Sabbath to hear the Word of God preached. Why? So that we can be fed spiritually and help each other to survive. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews:10:24-25). Not to do so is to deny oneself the spiritual food necessary for survival.
I have a number of potted plants in my conservatory that continually get reinfested with scale insects and aphids. As soon as I remove them another lot appear. Yes, the ants are responsible. These are their cattle and they promptly restock my plants so that they can harvest the honeydew from these insects. The lesson we can learn from the business that ants carry out is to be diligent in making a living and surviving financially. Consider this: Have you ever seen a lazy person who is spiritually diligent? It seems that how we live our lives carries over into our spiritual activities. It is God’s desire that we prosper (3 John 2), especially in those things that lead to eternal life. We need to be diligent in all aspects of our lives to at least be considered wise as an ant.
Ants keep doing
We have to be persistent. We have to seek, to look for God and knock on His door.
Ants are extremely persistent! If I catch them on the bench, I flush them down the sink; but within a short time, more of their colony arrive. They diligently search for food and water. God also wants us to diligently search. Jesus tells us: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew:7:7-8).
Yes, God wants a relationship with us, but we have to be persistent. We have to seek, to look for God and knock on His door. You might ask, “How do I seek and where do I knock?” If you are reading this, then you are probably seeking. If you pray to God about understanding His Word, then you are knocking. And if you do so, the Bible tells us, the door to wisdom will be opened so you may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter:3:18).
Ants do for others
Ants will die saving their nests. Just recently, I disturbed an ant colony and was impressed how each ant rescued a baby ant and carried it off to safety. Each ant knew what to do and did it. It was not every ant for itself. Human society, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly selfish and dangerous. There is no secret why this is happening. It is directly tied to the spiritual condition of each and every one who shuns God and ignores the path of righteousness. We find in the book of Romans this clear and unequivocal statement: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans:12:1-2). If humanity strived to do this, then society would indeed be blessed with peace and security.
You may think that this utopian condition will never come about, but be assured it will in due time.