Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways and be wise. Proverbs 6:6 (NRSV)
One of the popular educational toys that many boys wanted when I was growing up, was an ant farm. (This educational toy is still available to fascinate children, but in much less demand with the availability of computerized toys and games.) Some of my friends owned an ant farm and I was perfectly content to observe their ants at work without having a colony of my own. And the ants did work! You would watch them as they made their subterranean tunnels beneath the silhouette of a “farm scene complete with barn, tractor and windmill.”
Long before the advent of “ant farms,” people observed and took note of the actions of ants. One such person was the writer of Proverbs and in Chapter 6 he records his observations of ants as well as human beings. In comparing people and ants, he discovers that unlike all the industrious ants there are some human beings whom he identifies as “lazybones.” While others are busy working, these persons show little or no initiative and are content to rest and watch their laboring brothers and sisters.
The writer of Proverbs addresses these “lazybones” and bids them to go to the ant, consider its ways and be wise. Regarding human beings lack of initiative, he reminds them that the ants do not have a chief, officer or ruler to tell them what to do or to insist that they get busy. The “model” ants prepare their food in the summer and store up sustenance at harvest time.
He asks the “lazybones” how long will they lie there and when will they rise from their sleep? If they do not stay busy to earn their living, then poverty is sure to come. If they do not earn their living now and save some for he future, then one day they will be in want. The writer of Proverbs suggests that they consider the ants’ ways and be wise.
While God does not expect us to be workaholics, neither does God want us to be lazy and not work to earn our living. If God was a “lazybones,” where would the world be? If God was a lazybones, then you and I would not exist. God has made us, entrusted the world to our care and has given us skills and talents so that we may earn a living today and save some for tomorrow, In some “downtime” let us take some time to observe and learn from the ant so that we may become wise stewards of the gifts God has given us.
Creator of this big wide wonderful world and our Creator, we thank You for the lessons we can learn by taking time to be still, to observe, and to listen. Help us to learn valuable lessons from nature. Grant that we would be good and faithful servants and stewards … staying busy, earning our living, saving for tomorrow and taking care of the world as You would have us to do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.