Proverbs 6:6-11Amplified Bible
Go to the ant, O lazy one;
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Overseer or ruler,
She prepares her food in the summer
And brings in her provisions [of food for the winter] in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O lazy one?
When will you arise from your sleep [and learn self-discipline]?
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to lie down and rest”—
So, your poverty will come like an approaching prowler who walks [slowly, but surely]
And your need [will come] like an armed man [making you helpless].
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
It is always reassuring to see how our God can take even the smallest creatures of creation to teach us a high value lesson in his provision and in our role in making provision for ourselves and working in the Kingdom of God.
As we go about our daily lives, we often overlook some of the most simple yet still most powerful lessons to be learned from God’s very tiniest of creations.
One such incident is found in this passage from the Book of Proverbs 6:6-8.
It would serve us, both believers and non-believers well to closely examine the habits of the ants and see what we can learn from them.
After all, the Word of God tells us to “go to the ant”, in other words go check them out.
Invite some friends and neighbors and complete strangers ….
Have a Picnic!
Have a church or community event ….
Plan a Barbeque ….
Go to your backyard
Go to a Park and reserve a Pavillion ….
Cook your food, unpack your picnic baskets ….
Sit on the Ground on your Blankets ….
See how long it takes for those ever-ubiquitous ants to show up ….
See what they do and how they do it and learn we you can because even though they may be among the very smallest insects on earth, they have learned to build colonies and build “cities” if you will, under the earth and have survived since the dawn of creation by doing the things that come to them by instinct.
How many of you would like to feast and prosper and survive like the ants?
It’s nearly impossible to stop them from spreading all over your lawn.
They are always at every backyard picnic, even when they don’t get an engraved invitation. They are some of the busiest, most industrious creatures on earth!
When have you or I ever seen a lazy ant?
I’ve never seen a live ant just standing still, lying around on the sofa, watching Television, staring at smartphones, playing video games or just doing nothing.
There are no such things anywhere at any time called “couch potato” ants.
They are constantly moving. No moss is growing under their feet. They carry not only their own share of the load, but many have been known to carry as much as 100 times or more of their own body weight with a relative ease.
Oh, that we could find enough Christians who were just willing to shoulder their part of the load, much less carry the load for 100 other Christians.
There are a few of these kinds of workers in the church, but very precious few.
I do know that there is a lot of “couch potato” Christians. I dare say that very few, if any, of us don’t have a little bit of a lazy streak from time to time.
We can call it burn out, we can call it “charging our batteries” or whatever we like but the truth is we just have to have our times to kick back and do nothing.
As hard as it is for us to acknowledge or accept, one thing that we all must realize is that God did not create us to only just sit around doing nothing.
We were created to work, to build, to grow, to be industrious, and to continually learn to work, build more. We were created for service to God’s neighborhood.
God set an example for us when he began the Bible by saying that he worked to create all things and then rested from his work on the seventh day. Work and industriousness is the very character and nature of God.
Most of us wake up in the morning and say, “Oh no, it’s morning!”
What we should say is “thank God for another day to do his work”.
Work is a blessing, not a curse.
After all what could we accomplish without putting forth some effort?
Every good thing in life requires work and effort.
It can even be said that most of us are known by the “work” we do.
Some of us are secretaries, some are accountants, some are construction workers, some are teachers, and some are Mechanics, some are electricians, some are students, some are homemakers, some are electronics technicians, computer repair people, or software programmers, and the list goes on and on.
There are a lot of people who don’t know and will never ever know our name, but they will most definitely be able to identify us by what we do as workers.
Work gives life high value and significant meaning.
If you don’t think that’s true, then consider these statistics from the Social Security Administration.
A 65-year-old can expect to live another 19 to 21.5 years, on average, according to the Social Security Administration. What’s more, the government agency says a third of 65-year-olds will hit age 90, and 1 in 7 will live beyond age 95. Those numbers show a significant improvement in life expectancy over time.
Why do people choose to continue to work when they can just as easy retire?
People who continue to work after retirement often remain more active and socially connected, which can mean better overall health and fewer medical issues. Us, working part-time can give one a sense of being part of something fulfilling, meaningful, valuable without being tied to a career and long hours.
Why? I believe it is because after they retire, life loses a lot of its original zest.
Most don’t have or not want any part of any reason to even get out of bed in the morning after but a few months of retirement. “Hey! I earned this time of rest!”
It’s as though they cannot wait to leave their work just to just do nothing at all.
I do not believe that God created man to ever “retire” and quit doing any work.
There has to be something out there to replace your work.
Some hobby, some charity work, or something that will pique their interest and give them a reason to keep on living and to keep on thriving and also surviving.
People who give up and just go home to rock on the front porch without a dream or a vision for their future are not living, just existing, and it won’t be long until the body is so out of shape that it may well begin to fail to function as it should.
I am one of those looking forward to the day that I can leave the JOB, but not to do nothing. I feel sorry for those who have no future after their job is gone.
One begins to sense that perhaps it’s time to get a real life and realize that God isn’t near finished with us yet.
I want to do so much, and I have so much to do caring for my wife that I almost don’t have time to go to a job anymore.
The prospect of entering God’s Neighborhood, serving the Lord in ministry is far more rewarding than going to the job but the bills must be paid and so we just keep right on doing what we have to do until God sees fit to change things.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
That means that God labored for six days, expects us work, in every area of our lives, just as though we were working for him, because we are working for him.
Everything we do in His Neighborhood reflects upon our Christian character.
An ant works because that’s what ants do.
No one has to watch over him to make sure he is doing his job.
He doesn’t have to punch a time clock because his workday never ends.
He doesn’t worry about how much he is being paid because he knows all the other ants are doing their part too and that the needs of the colony will be met.
I only wish that Christians could have that much faith in their Heavenly Father.
We are too busy chasing the dollar to give God the time and energy that our God deserves from us.
If your boss on the job has to watch over you all day to make sure that you are doing your work; if all you ever do is complain of the low wages, bad working conditions, and you have a don’t care attitude about your company, that’s a terrible witness of the Love of God that is supposed to be in your heart.
God absolutely expects integrity.
God absolutely expects a disciplined and sound work ethic.
We all ought to love to work in God’s house.
We all ought to love to labor in God’s Vineyard.
We all ought to love laboring in God’s Neighborhood.
The work we do for the Lord ought to be extremely satisfying and exciting.
That ought to be, should be the same attitude we have on the job too.
Looking back at that ant colony we can easily see that it takes hard work and strict discipline on the part of every single ant to see that the colony thrives.
The worker ants can’t go on strike because they don’t get paid more than the others. The queen ant can’t refuse to do her work, or the whole colony dies.
Those that dig the channels, tend to the eggs, go forth from the nest to secure sources of food for the young in the nest and who protect the nest all have their tasks to do and it takes them all working in synch together to get the job done.
Teamwork is a necessary part of our work for the Lord too.
There are no unimportant people. Even those who won’t or don’t carry their part of the workload are still important, but they would be even more important if they would just put both of their shoulder to the wheel when they are needed.
Another thing is that I have never seen a colony of ants sitting in a motivational seminar in an attempt to get them to move.
They are too busy to need motivation.
I don’t see an ant standing along the trail every few inches with a prod in his hand making the others keep moving.
They just keep moving because they are self-motivated by their own survival.
There is nothing harder in the world than to try to motivate someone who is unmotivated.
Have you ever tried to get a teenager to work when they don’t want to?
Have you ever tried to make yourself get up and go take out the trash, mow the grass, trim the hedges, sweep the floor, wash windows or doing those dishes?
We will hold our motivational seminars, how-to classes and dream building sessions in an effort to make ourselves move. I’ve heard it said that our problem is not so much a lack of ‘proper’ motivation as it is the lack of a dream or vision.
There is a lot of truth to that.
Just to prove this point let’s see what happens if we offer to pay that teenager $25 to do the job instead of just ordering them to do it?
Perhaps the thought of having that $25 in their hands and the things that it can buy for them is or will become the primary motivating factor?
What about if our boss promises to give us a 15% raise in salary and benefits if we can “go that extra mile” to meet that “super critical” deadline in our jobs?
My, my, how much faster and more efficiently we can work then! Just offer us anything that is worthwhile having and worth the price of the work and watch us go! You see, it’s not driven by the lack of motivation, it’s driven by the lack of a prophetic vision. Give us a vision to chase after and we’ll get 100% motivated.
Brothers and Sister in Christ, Beloved Children of the Most-High God, we can learn so much from the ants if we would only take a close look at their habits.
But obviously, people aren’t ants.
We don’t live just on the instincts of survival like they do.
We are able to think and to reason and to labor and to change our lives and circumstances to make life a lot easier.
Sometimes I think that this ability to make our lives easy is a detriment to the growth of our society and our own wellbeing.
The spare time we create, if it isn’t used for something productive, becomes a roadblock in our path to success because it tends to make us think that we can “get by” if we can just sit down and do nothing but rest for one while or three.
Except, there is another side of that logic which we must address. How many of us know that the more we rest, the more we need to rest; the more we sleep, the more we need to sleep; and the less we work, the less you and I want to work?
“…How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep…”
Proverbs 20:13, “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.”
God calls those that love sleep, “sluggards”.
I think that’s a pretty apt description because there isn’t a more sluggish time of the day than when we first open our eyes in the morning.
We can “Talk” about the alarm clocks and the snooze buttons – if appropriate!
It is Sunday – Traditionally a “Sabbath Day” of nothing but rest, worship God.
So, perhaps it is fitting to bring this next part of the devotional to our notice.
A Search of God’s Scriptures “reveals” six habits that identify a sluggard:
1) They sleep too much.
Proverbs 26:14, “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.”
Just as a door won’t move in any direction without hanging on to its hinges, so is that person that loves sleep too much.
All day long all you hear them say is they can’t wait to get to bed or to lie down.
They go around yawning all the time. (Although I see a lot of people who do the same from that lack of sleep too) It’s hard to get them to do anything that takes away from their sleep time. They aren’t going very far from their place of rest.
2) They love to make excuses.
Proverbs 22:13, “The slothful man saith, there is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.”
It has been said that if you don’t want to do something that any excuse will do.
No one can find more excuses to not do something than the person who is too “too tired” and inevitably too lazy to do anything with even a minimal effort.
3) They have a “know-it-all”, un-teachable attitude.
Proverbs 26:16, “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
They will tell you why they can’t do something and find every reason in the world why they are right in their assumption.
You can’t argue with a lazy person and the only thing that will make them move is that “threat” of a “bucket full of ants about to be dumped down their pants.”
I know a lot of people who would probably starve to death before they will admit that they are simply lazy, but they won’t work for anything less than top salary.
4) They are procrastinators.
John 3:10-12The Message
10-12 Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
They always seem to put things off until the last minute and are always late for everything, if they show up at all.
They never finish anything they start but find every excuse for not continuing with any project.
They tire very easily and just give up rather than to attempt to improve.
They blame everyone and everything else for their own failure to accomplish anything rather than to admit that they are lazy.
They are terrible planners, in fact, they don’t plan for anything.
They just live from second to second, reacting to whatever comes in a crisis instead of taking initiative, attempting to change things before they happen.
5) They are irritating to everyone around them, especially those who are busy. Busy people with a vision and a dream to chase don’t have much patience or compassion for those who are not.
Proverbs 10:26, “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.”
Don’t expect a sluggard to get the job done.
If you do, you will always be disappointed.
Their inactivity and bad attitude will likely put a bitter taste in your mouth and make your head hurt and eyes water with aggravation and you will, most likely, have to do the job yourself anyway.
6. What is the final condition of a sluggard who is unwilling to change?
Proverbs 19:15, “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.”
Their whole life will lack for the things that they desire and need most.
In more ways than one would dare try to count, their life will be a disaster.
They can never satisfy their hunger for things of this earth and especially for the things of God because they are not willing to pay the price to have them.
Proverbs 10:4, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
They will ultimately live in poverty. Not only will they lack for material wealth but, more importantly, they will lack of spiritual wealth.
God will not honor those who refuse to seek after him and work to make their lives acceptable sacrifices to him.
Proverbs 18:9, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”
This speaks of the fact that the lazy person eventually leads their own home into destruction.
What man wants to keep a lazy wife or what wife wants to have to support a lazy husband? That marriage, and that home, is “headed” for destruction unless that one who is the sluggard wakes up and makes the determination to change.
The good news is that even sluggards can change if they really want to.
If they will only take a lesson from the ant and force themselves to get moving, they will eventually “arise from slumber” come out of that sluggish condition.
Nothing creates a dream or gives energy like getting into action and making things happen. The sheer satisfaction of accomplishing something worthwhile is usually all it takes to cure the sluggard.
The hard part is that God won’t change you unless you want to be changed bad enough to begin to do something about it yourself.
God will not overstep his own pre-imposed limits on taking control of your life.
The decision and first effort must come from us. If we are that determined to change, decide to change, and then take action to force ourselves to develop the right habits, then God will step in and help us to overcome our slothfulness.
So, take a lesson from the ant. Observe their industrious nature. See how they plan for the future and never will cease to work to see that the work is done.
Fact! You can’t stop ants from doing their work. No matter how many times you sweep away all the sand they’ve muscled through the cracks in your driveway, you can still be doing it again tomorrow, and the next day, and also the next.
Ants are vocationally fulfilled; like the birds of the air, they do not have a care in the world. God cares for every single one of them; all they care about is doing what God made them to do.
But God cares for us even more than the ants on the ground and birds in the air.
And he equips us, like them, to give our all to do diligently what he has created us to do—to love him above all and our neighbor as ourselves.
With God’s help, we can love sincerely, as Paul instructs.
We can (Romans 12:3-18)
“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
“Be devoted to one another in love” and “honor one another” above ourselves.
“Never be lacking in zeal,” says Paul, “but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Hospitality, patience, sharing with others, living in harmony, and other positive traits are identified by Paul as critically important to a Christian who is trying to serve the Lord. We are also called to “live at peace with everyone.”
This is a challenging, daunting task.
It is absolutely fulltime 24×7 Christian Ministry
The Mission Field is God’s ENTIRE Neighborhood. (Matthew 28:16-20 Acts 1:8)
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
― John Wesley
1 Corinthians 15:58The Message
58 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
But God’s gifts will simply overwhelm spiritual carelessness because,
like the ant, we’ll always and forever have far more than enough to do from morning till noon till night. And we can do it again the next day, and the next.
If we can have a church filled with Christians with that kind of attitude, there is no limit what God will do, absolutely no limits to where-ever God will take us.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Creator God, thank you that you are faithful to fulfill all your promises. You have said that you dwell in the hearts of your people through the presence of your Holy Spirit. When your church gathers together, you are in the midst of us. Hear our prayer and strengthen your church, Lord. You are the God of peace. May you sanctify us completely and may our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. You, who called us, are faithful to the end. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Alleluia! Amen.