Lessons from Ants

Chances are you have seen them – a lot! They are hard to miss. They are creatures that we battle with all the time. They have a powerful bite. They are capable of killing both people and animals.  They are tiny, but attack in great numbers. They are ants!

Ants are a very intriguing creation of God. On the surface they appear to be small and insignificant, and yet, the Bible says there are so many important lessons to be learned from them.

Consider the words from the wise man Solomon:

“Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-8

According to Solomon there are at least three life lessons we can learn from ants.

  • There is a lesson about preparation. Notice how Solomon tells us to observe the ant. He says the ant prepares for the future. He prepares his food in the summer so he won’t become a victim in the winter! He is smart enough to understand that today is not all there is. There is more to come. In due time the winter will be here and if he doesn’t have food stored he will starve.

Are we as wise as ants? Are we storing up and preparing for the future (Matthew 6:19-21)? The Bible says there are two inevitable events we are going to have to deal with in the future: death and judgment from God (Hebrews 9:27). Unfortunately, for so many they live each day as if this life is all there is. They fail to understand that our lives are just “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). We are here but a short time on this earth. Eventually we will die, stand before God in the judgment, and then dwell for eternity in either heaven or hell (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:46). The decisions we make now (each day) will determine our eternal destinies after this life! It would be wise for us to consider this constantly and make sure that we have surrendered completely to the Lord Jesus (Mark 16:16; John 12:28; 14:6). Those who do are wise like the ants. Those who don’t will suffer once the inevitable occurs.

  • There is a lesson about team work. The text in Proverbs 6 speaks of how the ants have no chief, officer, or ruler. And yet, every ant in the group has a function; they have something important they must do! Ants don’t work against each other. Instead, they work together. They cooperate with one another in an effort to accomplish a common goal. Some tend to eggs; others make sure that the queen is fed and taken care of; some search for and store food for the entire nest; others build the nest; some are soldiers and protect the nest.

In a group of ants every one has a job to do. Likewise, it is the same way in the church of God! In the church, or family of God, there is something important for everyone to do. Every member has a function in the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-20). Every one has a talent and ability for service (1 Peter 4:10-11). Every one has a purpose and responsibility to achieve so that the rest of the group can be successful (Ephesians 4:11-12). The question is: are we (if we are Christians) fulfilling our role? Are we using our talents to benefit others and build up the body of Christ?

  • There is a lesson about persistence. Have you ever destroyed an ant mound, only to find it rebuilt in just a few days? While that can be very frustrating, there is a lesson to be learned. The lessons is: ants don’t give up! You can knock down and destroy their hard work, but they will come together and build it again. No matter what, they will never quit until they are dead!

God wants His people to possess the same attitude. No matter what challenges we face in this life (no matter what things may discourage us and knock us down), we must never quit on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Instead, we must collect ourselves, remember the blessings we have in Christ, and press forward to the prize of heaven that awaits us in the end (Philippians 3:13-14). Ants never give up! Christians shouldn’t either!

Ants may irritate us from time to time, but there is a lot we can learn from ants. The question is: are we at least as smart as them? I pray and hope that we are.

– Shawn Jeffries

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We Can Endure!

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Have you ever met someone whose perseverance through their own struggles motivated you to do better?

For me, it was Angela, a 33 year old Christian with Down’s syndrome whom I met while preaching in the Birmingham area. Though she only came up to my shoulder she had a personality that was bigger than life. Angela was nearly the first person who shook my hand the morning I arrived at the church building. She marched right up and greeted me with a bright smile, saying, “You must be Andrew Roberts. I am looking forward to your sermons.” Then she quickly returned to her pew. She greeted me every night of that week-long preaching meeting.

There were interactive outlines for my sermons during the week but Angela would not take one. She told the ushers, “No. I don’t want it. I take my own notes.” Then on Friday night, after the last service, she handed me a stack of papers. She said, “Here are your sermons. And I want you to have them.” As I looked down, I realized that she had handwritten nearly everything I’d said in each sermon!

I was overwhelmed at her perseverance because I understood that every aspect of the note-taking process was more difficult for her. She truly endured. From her fine motor skills, to her cognitive ability, to her visual acuity – everything was just a little harder. And I treasure those papers as a testament to her faith and a poignant example of endurance.

The Hebrew writer admonishes: we all need endurance. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). Endurance is necessary to “do the will of God” (Hebrews 10:36), “live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38), and “run the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). We need endurance because doing, living, and running won’t happen accidentally. Furthermore, we need endurance because we don’t know how long we must continue doing, living, and running. Will we serve God faithfully for the next 60 years? Will Jesus return tomorrow?

What exhausts our endurance? The book of Hebrews shows Christians who began running their race amidst great struggles. Hebrews 10:32-34 recounts how, as new converts, they were mocked, imprisoned, lost property, and shared their goods with persecuted saints. Yet, according to Hebrews 10:23-25, those same Christians currently wavered about their confession and rarely assembled with the saints. They used to go to jail for Jesus and now they won’t even go to church!

Without endurance, Christians “draw back to perdition” (Hebrews 10:38-39). Being burdened and ensnared in sin, they cease to run their race (Hebrews 12:1).

So, what encourages endurance?

The Hebrew writer directed Christians to follow good examples of faith and endurance. First, they were reminded that faith fuels endurance through many Old Testament examples (Hebrews 11). Then they were directed to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2-3)! Jesus is the primary example of perseverance for the prize. Finally, they needed to consider their leaders and spiritual forebears (Hebrews 6:12; 13:7). These all received God’s promises.

The Bible recounts God’s faithfulness in the past and promises for the future. It makes the case for endurance today. Furthermore, we benefit from the good examples of leaders in the church or beloved elderly saints who’ve shaped us and endured in the faith.

Endurance is rewarded in receiving God’s “promise” (Hebrews 10:36) – “the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39). We can endure! What helps is time spent reading Scripture, an intent focus on Jesus, and meeting saints like Angela who, themselves, persevere.

By Andrew Roberts