The Gift of Ants

This is a tribute to some very special ants. They definitely aren’t slugs.

I was introduced to slugs in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t dismiss God made slugs and made them with purpose—though it isn’t obvious to me except to build patience before I unleash unkind words when stepping on them. If you’ve ever stepped on one you know they are slow, slimy, slippery, and ugly.

Their human counterpart, the sluggard, isn’t favorably portrayed by God. They don’t display a lot of initiative. Consider what God has said about them: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly” (Proverbs 26:16); “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9). At best, sluggards can only rise to the level of, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”

The ant receives high regard from God.” Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” (Proverbs 6:6). Ants plan and build, and are tenacious about their work. We can learn a lot from them. I’ve always wondered if they even sleep. Our culture needs fewer sluggards and a lot more ants.

Interestingly, God connects wisdom to work, and the illustration is ants. Satisfaction in work comes from approaching it wisely. Being a workaholic isn’t the answer, but faithfully doing what God has before us—whether jobs or tasks or service, with thought and persistence “as unto to the Lord.” In meeting our physical needs, God has even instructed the church: “If a man won’t work he shouldn’t eat.” Ouch.

The significant yet lesser work is our jobs or careers. I’ve had many jobs and ministry stations in the last fifty or so years. They certainly were God-appointed arenas to reflect Christ, serve others, and meet our daily needs. For sure, it is all kingdom of God work. The greater “work” for followers of Christ is to point others to the One who, in grace and love, did the ultimate work—giving His life for us on the cross. We never had an angry “boss” on His throne waiting to stomp us. We have a Father, urging us to come, rest from our labor and sin.

I said earlier this column was a tribute to some very special ants. For the last five years I have worked with hard-working and unappreciated public servants at the Department of Human Services. I salute you. This is a fabulous team. They are truly like an ant hill of furiously busy workers, each with their own purposeful task, moving about to help tons of people. I have loved their wacky, loving insults and tricks (they decorate my cube from time to time), and the freedom they have given to be weird me. The Queen Ant sets the example and provides encouragement day after day against impossible odds. (Her baked goods are pretty good, too.) They all know how to love.

Today Father, I am especially thankful for the gift of “ants.”

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