March 18 I Sunday
“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.” —Proverbs 6:6-8
To correct the sluggard’s attitude, Solomon suggests looking to the ant. Ants are incredibly strong creatures, able to carry the heaviest weight of any animal in proportion to its size. They are also highly social, existing as part of colonies where each ant has a specific job to do. But what in particular can the sluggard learn from the ant?
Firstly, an ant’s work ethic exemplifies responsibility. Unlike the sluggard, ants look beyond their immediate needs. The sluggard only works to provide for the here and now, but the ant collects food in summer for the good of the colony down the road. Ants spring into action whenever their colony is under attack. The apparent chaos that occurs when we knock off the top of their anthills is really an incredibly organized re-digging and repairing of tunnels.
Secondly, the sluggard can learn reliability from the ants. No one needs to tell an ant it is time to gather food or rebuild tunnels. There are no commander ants looking over shoulders and demanding everyone do their part. When there is a need, every ant can be relied upon to fill it. Of course, this is largely because of instinct in which ants are essentially prewired to act this way, but they still serve as good examples for the sluggard. Our communities are strengthened when people do a task they know needs doing without having to be asked or checked up on.
Finally, the ants’ interdependence on one another for the colony’s success teaches the sluggard respect. Not every ant is a gatherer or rebuilder. There are actually three kinds of ants—queen ants, worker ants and soldier ants—and each type has specific roles within the colony. The queen’s job is simply to be fed and lay eggs so the colony can grow. She is served by the worker ants that dig tunnels, incubate eggs and take care of the resulting babies. Meanwhile, the soldier ants are the ones gathering food and defending the colony.
The sluggard wastes his gifts by not looking beyond his immediate self-interest, but ants exemplify respect for each other by reliably fulfilling their particular roles for the greater good of the colony. This should remind us of when Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. We all have a place within this body, including the sluggard, but bodies only work when there is mutual interdependence between its members. In the same way, the church is strongest when we each take responsibility for tasks that fit our gifts and callings, work reliably to get them done and show mutual respect for others within the body by encouraging them do the same.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the remarkable example of the ant. May their responsibility, reliability and respect be a regular reminder of how to execute my role within Your church. Thank You, Lord.