Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

3 Things Christians Can Learn From Ants


Back in high school, a good buddy and I used to throw a Bible verse around as a comedic punchline to each other, almost like it was quote from a movie.  We weren’t using the verse in context or because of some great exegesis we had done…it was humorous to us.  Proverbs 6:6 says it like this (in the King James Version…because it was so perfectly funny to us):

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise!

Now, I dare you to read that verse out-loud in your best “intense” voice.  Maybe it was just us but there was something comedically powerful about proclaiming “THOU SLUGGARD!” in a voice of authority, even if we had none.

Ok, ok…so we were/are knuckle-heads who didn’t fully understand the beauty of that passage.  I won’t deny that one bit.

However, the truth of Proverbs 6:6 still stands and perhaps it IS time to “go to the ant” and “consider her ways and be wise.”

Here are three simple things we can learn from ants that would be profitable for us.

Avoid The Death March

Some army ants may have little or no sight so they navigate by smell/pheromones from the ant in front of it.  This process can become lethal if the ant in front “loses the scent” of the trail.  Ants end up getting locked in an endless loop that will kill them all.

In the 1920’s, William Beebe was studying the rainforest in Guyana when he observed the phenomenon for himself.  The death circle was slowly killing off the ants locked in it.  Beebe reported, “with ever increasing numbers of dead bodies littering the route as exhaustion took it’s toll.”

It looks like this:

They are running as fast as they can…but they aren’t going anywhere because they’ve lost the trail.  They aren’t “sluggards,” but they are slowly dying by their own misguided activity.

Likewise, as Christians we can lose the “trail” in our own lives.   Mere activity is no promise of advancement; what matters is where we are going.  Often, we get sidetracked by the deceptive smell of sin or perhaps we find ourselves locked in the loop of legalistic religion.  Either way, unless we escape, those paths will devastate us.

Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

That is how we avoid the death march. Follow God (be imitators), walk in love (not in destructive loops) and savor the sweet smell of the Gospel (the fragrant aroma).  If the sacrificial death of Jesus and His humble love are the scent you treasure, then you will follow Him and walk in His ways.

And you will help others to not lose the trail in the process.

Accept Who God Made You To Be

In the film Ant-Man, Scott Lang learns to embrace ants as his allies and work together with them to stop evil.  Scott uses a variety of ants to get the job done, such as:

  • Bullet Ants for attack
  • Carpenter Ants for transportation
  • Crazy ants for craziness (and carrying objects)
  • Fire ants for building and crafting things like bridges

Marvel-Ant-Man-Banner-Poster.jpg

The ants in the film gives a great picture of how the church can thrive when we each embrace the gifts God has given us to serve others.  In other words, the flying ants don’t try to lead the attack team — instead they fly the best they can.  The bullet ants don’t try to join the fly team — instead they use their lethal poison for attack.

Paul describes how the church is also made up of individual members who are designed to use their gifts correctly in service of others.  In 1 Corinthians 12 he lays it all out and concludes in verse 27 “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”  He says some are apostles, some prophets, some teachers, etc.  His encouragement is what we see beautifully portrayed in the ants: working together, using the abilities they have, for the greater good.

I guess you can say Paul is telling us to be ourselves and not the ANT-ithesis of that.  (That was terrible, I know.  See, I told you I was a knuckle-head.)

How has God made you?  What are the gifts and talents He’s given you?  What areas of ministry really bring you to life?  What are you passionate about?  How are you developing, improving, and serving in that area now?  How are you encouraging the rest of the Church body as they serve?  How are you helping others discover and grow in their calling?

Let that be your ANT-them.

Always Be Digging

Youtube is a haven for people with some rather strange habits.  This we know.  But did you know there’s a whole community of people who do rather strange things with…habitats?  I’m talking about people who film themselves pouring molten aluminum or concrete into ant hills so they can make a casting out of their entire colony home.

Bizarre hobby?  Yes.  Does it yield some fascinating results?  You bet.  Check this out:

Tell me that wasn’t amazing!  The size and scope of what those ants accomplished is truly remarkable.

How did that happen?  It was the constant, consistent digging of all the ants with no regard for acclaim or credit.  Everyday the ants just kept working.  Grinding.  Hands dirty.  Pushing forward.  They just kept digging.

In first Corinthians 15, Paul lays out the case for the Resurrection of Jesus and all the wonderful truths that come with it.  At the conclusion of such a powerful chapter, he writes these words “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  That is a clear call to always “be digging” in the work of the Lord that He gives you.  Jesus rose again, He’s coming back again, He will reign forever.  Therefore, what you do with the life He gives you matters.

So don’t stop.  Never quit.  Fight off silly distractions.  Preserve.  Endure.  Always be digging.  No matter what season of life or ministry you are in, you press on and do what He puts before you.

In the middle of planting a church?  Keep digging.  Are you in the years of raising children?  Of course your hands will be dirty!  Push forward.  Trying to stay afloat at a tough job?  Give God glory by your steadfast work.

What you do may feel “underground.”  Maybe you think no one’s watching or that the fruits of your labor go unnoticed.  Perhaps it seems like sometimes all you’re doing is moving dirt around in the dark.  The truth is that Your Father gave you these opportunities and He is watching.  He is glorified when you do your absolute best out of a heart of worship towards Him.

He is why you keep digging.  He is why, as Paul says, “your labor (your digging) is not in vain.”

Only One Life

There’s so much more we could learn from ants; way beyond these three simple things.  They are fascinating creatures that reflect the majesty of God in how they work.  May that be true of you and me as well.

Let the old poem by C.T. Studd be true of us:

Give me Father, a purpose deep,

In joy or sorrow Thy Word to keep;

Faithful and true what e’er the strife,

Please Thee in my daily life;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,

And from the world now let me turn;

Living for Thee, and Thee alone,

Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Thanks for reading.  Your comments and insights are always welcomed.  If you enjoyed this, please share it.  Want more content?  Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast.

2 comments on “3 Things Christians Can Learn From Ants

  1. Clarice Calaway
    April 13, 2016

    Love your humor. Love your insight. Lots of strong stuff here. Thank you!

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2016 by in Blogroll, Faith And Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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