The church kitchen is having an ant problem. I just killed a few more while I was grabbing a coffee. Our church is located on the 3rd floor and we seem to always have ants. New and more ant traps have been placed out and any open packages or sweets have been removed. Still I see ants wandering about. Where do they come from and what do they want? More importantly, why won’t they just go away? How can such a tiny pest be such a huge problem? They have been very persistent.
So as I was watching some of these ants I got to thinking, what does the Bible say about ants? The only thing I could find was these verses from Proverbs:
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer. (Proverbs 30:25)
The writer of Proverbs had noted the efficiency of ants and was impressed with their work. There is a general theme in Proverbs about working hard and being diligent. The word ‘sluggard’ is one of my favourite. A sluggard was lazy and self indulgent, someone who wasn’t interested in working for a living. These verses about ants are often used to teach about the importance of hard-work, being organized, self-motivation, planning ahead and so on.
At the time that Proverbs was written most people lived day to day. They didn’t enjoy a grocery store, home delivery or a line of credit. If they didn’t work in the field, or in the work shop, they would go hungry. If they didn’t prepare for harvest and winter the family would starve to death. The need to work hard was very real.
We have to admit that by any reasonable standard we have it much easier today. Most of us aren’t in immediate danger of going hungry. We have some reserves and there are often community or government programs to help people out. But I think that God is still interested in our work and wants us to be diligent about it.
Work was part of the created order of our world. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and told them to look after it. Long before sin entered into the world there was work. The effect of sin was to make work more difficult. For some people that means they grow lazy and careless. But for others it means they overwork and become driven. As Christians we need to know that our work is valuable, we should have a good work ethic and strive to be diligent in all we are called to do. However, we also need to guard against giving ourselves completely to work. Our work is what we do, it’s not our identity, it’s not who we are. Remember that God created work but he also created a rhythm – six days of work and one day of rest. Finding that balance can be a challenge but it’s very necessary.
So, take a moment and do the following three things – First, thank God for your work. If you are looking for work know that God is concerned about this and will answer your prayers for good employment. Second, ask yourself if you are working like an ant or a sluggard. Some personal reflection and evaluation is good from time to time. And finally, make sure to find time for your rest. God wants time for you to renew and refresh, he wants time to meet with you.