Ants are social insects. It means they work together as a whole. Amazingly, ants know how to divide task among them, they have good communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems. No wonder King Solomon used these tiny creatures to illustrate practical truths.
The Scripture reads, “Go to the ant, you lazy bum, watch its ways, and become wise (Prov 6:6 God’s Word Translation).”
Ants obviously have small brains. But their wisdom is big. The Geneva Study Bible comments, “If the word of God cannot instruct you, learn from the little ant to labor for yourself and not to burden others.” The first wisdom from the Ants is;
Diligence can be defined as careful and constant effort to achieve something without burdening others.
The first principle of the ants hinges on making their day to day work efficient for everybody. They do not want to burden others. Matthew Henry captured the essence of diligence when he wrote, “Diligence in business is every man’s wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?”
Our task as Christian is to be diligent in preparing for the coming “winter.” The ants have no chief officer or ruler to remind them to be diligent but they prepare their “food in the summer and gather [their] her provisions in the harvest (Prov 6:7-8).” Winter is cold and chilly. No food is planted and gathered at that time. If we have prepared we have something to eat when it comes.
The next wisdom we can learn from the ants is their keen understanding of deposits. Deposit can be defined as laying down of something for safe keeping. Now, hoarding is different from depositing. The former is an abnormal compulsive behavior while the latter is making provisions by storing in a safe place.
Ants labor all day and lay their food in their nest. Ants deposit their food on a place where they knew it is safe from elements and envy. The principle here taught is frugality as an investment for their future.
Where are we laying or depositing our treasures? Matt 6:20 forcefully says, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” The good thing about ants is they don’t fight over their deposits.
The third wisdom we can observe from the ants is their sense of direction. It seems to me that they know where they are going with their food. Direction is an integral part of their survival. The principle here is their acquired knowledge. They know therefore they go.
Scientists observe, “Real ants are capable of finding shortest path from a food source to the nest (Beckers, Deneubourg and Goss, 1992; Goss, Aron, Deneubourg and Pasteels, 1989) without using visual cues (Hölldobler and Wilson, 1990). Also, they are capable of adapting to changes in the environment, for example finding a new shortest path once the old one is no longer feasible due to a new obstacle (Beckers, Deneubourg and Goss, 1992; Goss, Aron, Deneubourg and Pasteels, 1989).”
If the ants knew what is important and where to go from point A to B, human beings who lost what is significant in life and their direction must ashamed. Let us go back to the basics by learning from the Scriptures.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Lastly, the fourth wisdom we can learn from the ants is their mastery of a human value called dedication. Dedication like dependability and determination is a noble trait. Dedication can be defined as an act of setting aside for a special or holy purpose. It means doing the same thing to achieve something. Interestingly, ants go through the same direction to and fro.
A researcher writes, “It is well-known that the main means used by ants to form and maintain the line is a pheromone [chemical that triggers behavioral response] trail. Ants deposit a certain amount of pheromone while walking, and each ant probabilistically prefers to follow a direction rich in pheromone rather than a poorer one. This elementary behavior of real ants can be used to explain how they can find the shortest path which reconnects a broken line after the sudden appearance of an unexpected obstacle has interrupted the initial path.”
That’s why ants work and walk together in order for them to attain their goals. For us humans the better way to dedicate is found in 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”