By this time next Monday, there will be picnics, barbecues, lake parties, family gatherings, patriotic moments, fireworks, boating and swimming get-togethers and a host of other activities built into our lives as a result of July Fourth holiday. One lady said, “I live for weekends and holidays.” While all of us need and should look forward to breaks, and while we are indebted to our Founding Fathers and should pause to commemorate our roots as a nation on such a sacred day, we may be missing the boat completely if we only “live for weekends and holidays.”
It may have been this type of mindset to which the biblical author was referring when he penned: “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.“ (Prov. 6:6-8)
By observation we learn several things about daily work from our little picnic-ant friend.
First, notice her ways (vs. 6). What are her ways? Among other things, she understands herself to be part of a team. Her ego isn’t damaged simply because she isn’t the standout. She is content to work all day and add to the bottom line, accomplishing the objectives of the overall colony. Sometimes we struggle because we aren’t in the spotlight at work; we want to fly solo when the cockpit has many seats.
Second, she has wisdom (v. 6). She operates, not out of drama or feeling, but from the basis of wisdom. For you and me, wisdom is fearing (revering) the Lord, caring what He wants and employing His standards.
Thirdly, she is self-motivated. Verse 7 says that she has ”no chief, officer, or ruler.” This simply means that she has no CEO to have to look over her shoulder to keep her on task. She knows what she needs to do and she does it- faithfully, dutifully, even joyfully- because she wants her colony to succeed. Do you have to be prodded to do your work or do you take it upon yourself to get it done?
Fourth, she “prepares her food in the summer” (v. 8). This is a lesson in preparation. She is visionary, working hard today to also be ready for tomorrow. This implies a healthy balance between the demands of today and the needs of later. Do you lean too heavily on one side of this continuum or the other?
Lastly, she is provisional. There is a “harvest” for her (v.8). She will not be caught short-handed in the lean times. When wintertime (hardship, difficulty) hits- and it comes for all of us- she is able to weather it without it being fatal to her work or her life. She provided for herself in advance with systematic, hard work.
All of this is compared and contrasted to the approach of a “sluggard” (v. 6). Sluggard is defined as: One who leans against a wall. In other words, he is lazy, sluggish, and not concerned about his work. Instead of industrious, he is taking it easy- most all of the time. It also carries the idea of outwitting someone for money (as opposed to earning his keep). Thirdly, sluggard can be defined as one who has a sundown mentality… always waiting for today to be over. If you and I are just watching the clock, waiting on the workday to be over and the weekend/holiday to get here, then we are missing our very reason for existing today!
Examine the characteristics of the little ant. Employ and apply them in your work life today. This is the Word of God. Do it, and you’ll be a better worker, boss and representative in the colony in which you live and work! Don’t underestimate the ant…and don’t let her out work you!