The wee ant darting about on the ground is smaller than a paper clip, and most humans view the insect as a pest at picnics. But despite its small size and annoying propensity to zero in on picnic food, the ant provides a big faith lesson to believers who thoughtfully consider its ways.
An insect related to wasps and bees, ants have a distinctive body with antennae on their heads and a narrow waist. Their size ranges from 0.08 to 1 inch. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/ants.
These insects live all over the world—on every continent except for Antarctica. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant. Because of their wide distribution on Earth, ants exceed over 20 quadrillion in number. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/ants. Of this large population, scientists recognize more than 12, 000 different ant species.
Ants exhibit unbelievable communication skills. This adeptness comes in handy as they live in organized and structured nest communities. https://www.britannica.com/animal/ant. The ants who live in these communities, called colonies, cooperate and get along for the good of all the insects which comprise it.
Old as the (Ant) Hills?
Ants crawled about on the Earth in ancient times. The discovery of a fossilized ant trapped in amber establishes their long presence on this planet, perhaps even dating back to the Cretaceous period. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant. Who knows? Although not expressly identified as being an occupant of the ark, two ants may have been sailing companions of Noah.
The Old Testament mentions ants in a couple of places, both in the book of Proverbs. Even King Solomon, a king associated with wisdom and the supposed author of the book, knew about ants and their habits.
Because ants build ant hills on our lawns, disrupt our picnics, and bite, the insects are generally viewed in a negative light. Even the name “ant” derives from a West Germanic word meaning “the biter.”
Nevertheless, world folklore paints the ant in glowing terms. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/discover-the-significance-and-symbolism-of-ants-in-the-bible/. Tales about them praise their industriousness and persistence in overcoming challenges.
Wise as an Ant?
Proverbs 30:24-25 (NIV) states four things on earth are small but “extremely wise.” The first thing listed? The ant. So, Proverbs 6:6 instructs the reader to consider the ways of the ant in order to be wise. Yes, the ant.
What serves as the basis for characterizing the ant as wise? Proverbs 30:25 answers the question directly. The prudent ant plans ahead, gathering food in the summer. Why? Because the winter is coming and food will be scarce then. But the wise ant has stored food for that very situation.
Scientists observing ants confirm the foresight of the ants. These insects gather when food is ripe and store it for future use. Such behavior has been documented in insects in the United States, India, and Italy, meaning the insects inherently operate in this manner. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/ant/.
Faith Lessons From the Ant
Specific faith lessons spring from considering the ant. Just what can these tiny creatures teach us?
- Don’t be lazy. Ants are industrious creatures. While Christians may not be gathering food like ants do, they can actively work on their spiritual health. Believers can gather wisdom from daily Bible reading, receive encouragement from regular fellowship with others of like faith, and develop a deeper relationship with God through consistent prayer time.
- Cooperate to complete tasks. Working together, ants build impressive ant hills, lift and carry pieces of food bigger than they are, and smoothly operate their colony. If ants can lift and carry off the potato chip dropped at a picnic, what could believers do if they attacked problems and obstacles around them together? Cooperation, not divisiveness, is key to furthering God’s kingdom and sharing His love.
- Play your part. Ant colonies work because a colony structure exists. Each ant has a specific task to perform. A queen bee is needed as well as worker bees. All the ants can’t be workers, and neither can they all be queens. Even the Bible recognizes that those in the body of Christ have specific parts to play. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2012%3A12-27&version=NIRV. Some are gifted as teachers while others may shine as encouragers. Whatever your role is, do it to the best of your ability and recognize its importance to the functioning of the body as a whole.
Consider the Ant
Ants may be tiny, but they can accomplish great things when they work cooperatively and prudently in an organized fashion. Why not consider them as Solomon suggests? Yes, a small insect can add to your wisdom and offer big faith lessons.