"Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!" – Proverbs 6:6 NLT
Nature is full of lessons if we will just stop long enough to look and learn. It seems that God has wired into His creation some valuable and highly practical illustrations from which we can glean insights for living. In this verse, the lazy person or sluggard, is told to wake up long enough to examine the work ethic of the ant. They're small, apparently leaderless and lacking anyone to make them work, yet they labor hard all summer gathering food for the winter. These tiny, insignificant creatures instinctively know how to diligently sustain not only themselves, but their entire colony, through hard work. Don't don't sleep in or shirk their responsibilities. Every one of them does their fair share of the work to help make the colony successful. But the lazy individual thinks only about himself, and prefers sleep over work. They just can't seem to get out of bed in the morning. Elsewhere in the Proverbs they are described to be like a door on hinges, they just keep rolling right back into bed every time they attempt to get up.
It would seem to me that if God has wired the ant with a basic instinct for hard work and diligence, the same thing would be true of man. Man was created to work. Man was created to be creative. But what has gone wrong? In short, the fall. Sin entered the picture and muddied the water. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, work became drudgery. What used to be enjoyable became laborious and required sweat and effort. And because work became difficult, man began to look for shortcuts and workarounds. He began searching for a better way, an easier way. Because God had wired man to work and create, Satan began to tempt him with alternatives and distract him with easier options. Sleeping in seems so much more appealing than getting up and going to work. A few more hours of rest beats work hands down. But when we choose the Enemy's options, we find ourselves in rebellion against God. Just as Eve listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit, in direct violation of God's command, every time we give in to the temptations of Satan and shirk our God-given responsibility to work, we are sinning against Him.
Laziness is sin. When we fail to work, we are refusing to obey God and do what He has created us to do. But wait, you say, "I get up early every morning and put in a full day at work. I never sleep in and I work long, hard hours." But you may still be lazy. Because when all is said and done, the work we are called to by God is to do His will. Ants are created to work hard for the colony. They are communal creatures whose soul purpose in life is to minister and contribute to the good of the whole. You don't see ants starting side businesses or taking a well-deserved two-week vacation to Barbados. From the minute they are born to the second they die, they are laboring, not for themselves, but for the community. And all they do, they do in conjunction with others. They labor together, not individually. There is a sense of shared responsibility and corporate cooperation. Too often, our hard work is self-centered and for our benefit only. We live in a society that has lost its corporate and communal sensibility. We have become Lone Rangers, doing what we do with diligence and determination, but with little sense of our responsibility to the body.
As believers, we are called to labor for the cause of Christ within the context of the body of Christ. But many of us have become so distracted with other cares and concerns. We work hard, but we have lost sight of our mission. We spend countless hours earning a paycheck and accomplishing work that benefits primarily just ourselves. But when it comes to the work for which God created us and for which Christ redeemed us, we can become lazy, disinterested and distracted by other concerns and cares. God has work for us to do, but we are too busy doing what we want to do. We have become lazy about accomplishing the will and the work of God. And we make excuses, justifying our actions and attempting to make ourselves feel good about all we are accomplishing – for ourselves. "Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!"
Father, it is sometimes so easy to be lazy about the things You would have me do. I can put off Your work and replace it with my own. I can delay doing Your will in order to accomplish my own. I can also become so self-centered that I lose sight of the Body of Christ and my responsibilities to it. Help me learn a lesson from the ant and diligently do the work You have created me for and called me to do. Amen