Learn From The Ants!

Proverbs 6:6-8: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest

Let's take a close look at the text of Proverbs 6.
There is much that we can learn from the little ant.
We can learn from these tiny creatures how to become better Christians.
Those little ants can also help us as a church be more effective in our work for the Lord.
God tells us how to do that in this passage.
Verse six doesn't say, "Look to the ant."
It says "Go to the ant."

King Solomon was known as a very wise man.
Imagine what powerful lessons King Solomon might have learned as he watched the little ants
which were busy around his palace.

He probably observed how ants work as teams.
He must have learned how ants inherently trust each other, and how they collaborated
regardless of each individual's size or strength?
He must have observed how diligent and focused the ants were about their work.
And he probably noticed how quickly they regrouped when something disturbed their normal rhythm .

King Solomon was a mighty builder of palaces.
So, he must have learned how the ants built awe-inspiring anthills without sophisticated tools.
He would have agreed with this simple saying from Nigeria:
"The anthills are not built by elephants, but by the collective efforts of the little ants?"

I believe if King Solomon were alive today, he would challenge us with words something like this:
"So you feel overwhelmed by future.
And you are struggling to cope with change in an ever-turbulent environment.
You want to bear good fruit and much fruit, yet you struggle to juggle limited resources.
Go and learn from the ants!"

So, let us go to the ants!
We will need to get their mailing address.
We know that their address is not a high mountain in the Andes.
The mountain address that we are looking for is an anthill.

Proverbs 30:25 says, "Ants are of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer."

Ants are amazing creatures.
It's estimated that if you could weigh all of the ants on earth, they would weigh more
than the total human population.
While we don't want them running around in our kitchens, there is so much that we can learn from them.
We can we learn from these remarkable, tiny insects.

Believe it or not, but ants have a very great deal in common with us.
They are social insects.
They have clearly defined job roles, such as worker ants, guards, food preparation experts,
builders and many others.

The ants referred to in Proverbs 6:6 are called Harvester Ants.
They live along the Mediterranean Sea in the land of Israel, and they go out and gather grain.
They remove the grain from it's husk and store it in their storage area.
They can be seen working all though the harvest seasons, so that they have food to eat in the winter.

It has been said that the ant is the most successful of all social insects..
Ants live in colonies numbering from a few to over 20 million.
There are approximately 1 quadrillion ants in the world today.
(This is a 10 followed by 15 zeros!)
That's a lot of little ants!

There are thousands of species of ants in the world.
There are very small ants that can build a colony between sheets of office paper.
There are aphids ants that heard insects the way people heard cows.
There are ants that cut leaves, and grow fungus on them as a form of food.
Some ants live in small groups, and others live in huge colonies.

I have read that the world's ants dig up more than 16 billion tons of dirt every year!
That's enough to fill 3 billion dump trucks!
Now I don't know how anyone can know that, but that's what In read in my research.

They are also considered as one of the strongest insects on Earth.
They have the ability to lift a seed five times its weight.
Elephants are only able to lift objects one fifth their weight.

According to National Geographic, there are more than 10,000 species of ants on the planet.
They are insects.
This means they have a head, a thorax and an abdomen as body segments,
and they have three pairs of legs and an antennae.

Ants are social insects living in colonies and composed of several castes: the worker class,
soldier class, drones and queen ants.
Queen ants and drones, who are male ants, (whose function is to mate with the queen)
both have wings, while workers and soldiers are wingless.

When you see an ant, it is probably one of the workers, and the types of black species
that you may observe in your home or outside are carpenter ants, pavement ants, little black ants,
small honey ants and crazy ants.

Carpenter are generally black, but they can have hues of yellow, red or orange on their bodies.
They range in size from 1/4 to 3/4 inches, the largest members being the queens.
Colonies generally nest outside in trees or just about anything made of wood.
They don't eat wood; they simply remove it to form their homes.
Carpenter ants usually eat honeydew generated from aphids and other insects.
If they find their way into your home, they could cause some damage to wooden doors, beams and frames.
There are approximately 25 species of carpenter ants in the U.S.

Then there are pavement ants.
They are slow-moving and almost lethargic at times.
When they nest outdoors, it is normally under rocks or in pavement cracks, but when it comes to wintertime,
you may have a colony that has settled inside your home.

Also, there are black ants
Their colony size can be up to 2,000 workers.
Outdoors, they may form nests in unprotected areas and under rocks, logs and bricks.
They also may come inside your home where they may settle in wooden structures, wall crevices
or under carpets.

Small honey ants are about the same size as little black ants, and they normally live outside in the soil.
Sometimes they may end up in your kitchen if there are food items left out to tempt them.
If this occurs, you will probably see a long line of ants walking single-file on your countertop.

Crazy ants get their name because the colony sometimes has the appearance of running around frantically.
They occupy a variety of wet and dry habitats from gardens and potted plants to under tree stumps,
rocks and bricks.
They eat food crumbs, which may attract them to your kitchen, but they are also carnivores and eat flies
and other insects.

Fire ants are stinging ants.
Fire ant queens may live as many as 6 to 7 years, and can produce up to 3,500 eggs per day.
That adds up to roughly 9 million eggs produced during a single queen's lifetime.
Young, virgin fire ant queens have wings (as do male fire ants), but rip them off after mating

Fire ants are known for their lively and aggressive behavior, swarming over anyone or anything
that disturbs their nest, often attacking wild animals, baby animals, pets or people.
Their painful stings affect about 40% of people in infested areas each year.
Twenty million people a year are stung by fire ants in the United States!
My wife and our granddaughters have been stung by fire ants -- the sting is very painful.

They invade homes, school yards, athletic fields, golf courses, and parks.
They will damage crops and electrical equipment, costing billions of dollars each year
in repairs and eradication.
Texas A & M University estimated the cost to the state of Texas alone was over $1 billion per year.
It is best to call an exterminator as soon as you notice an infestation.

Ants have delegated jobs.

Soldier ants live as a societal insect, meaning that various members carry out different tasks
for the benefit of the whole group.
The queen lays the eggs, while workers, which are always female, tend to the needs of the nest.
Different types of workers exist, each one with a different mandible.
Those with the largest mandibles protect the other workers as they gather food,
while workers with the mid-size mandibles capture prey and bring it to the colony.

Ants have styles of attack.

Soldier ants must migrate to search for food.
They can both attack other insects or animals, or raid other ant colonies.
Various species of soldier ants have different techniques for attacking.
A swarm front attack involves ants sweeping over an area and overwhelming the animals they encounter.
Some species send raids in various directions to surround a food source.
The ants communicate to each other by leaving a chemical trail.
It is organized so guard soldier ants post along the trail and look after the others.

They have a commensalism relationship.
Commensalism derives from the English word, commensal, meaning "eating at the same table."
Originally, the term was used to describe the use of waste food by second animals,
like the carcass eaters that follow hurting animals, but wait until they have finished their meal.
This is a type of relationship between two organisms where one organism benefits
without affecting the other

Other types of animals exist in a commensal relationship with soldier ants, in which they try
to take advantage of the ants' movement with no effect on the ant colony itself.
Soldier ants attack both insects and small mammals alike, even climbing trees to kill birds.
Such animals, as monkeys, may spot and try to escape oncoming ants.
For this reason, certain predators follow soldier ant colonies in hope that they might flush out prey,
such as fleeing monkey or birds.

I imagine that you have heard more about ants today to last you a lifetime.
But just remember what A great Creator God we have.

So let us remember that ants are great teachers.
Proverbs 30:24-28: "There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
the rock badgers are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces

There are many lessons that we can learn from ants that will help us in our lives.

Ants are industrious creatures.

They act with diligence and cooperation, and are always in constant communication with each other
to ensure that the work gets done.
There is so much that we can learn from the ant, including the merits of hard work,
communication and collaboration.

Ants are persistent and hard working.
They use their time wisely by gathering and storing sufficient food in summer and harvest
to survive the winter.
Ants work smart by not squandering their resources.
Every part of an ant's body is used for work, and when a load is too heavy other, ants rush to help.

Using work time wisely like the ant can be a difficult lesson to learn.
According to a "2008 Wasting Time at Work Survey", employees waste up to two hours each workday
(not including lunch time) on personal activities.
The resulting cost to employers is estimated at 759 billion dollars annually.

Christians are exhorted to work as if the Lord has directly given us the assignment.

Colossians 3:23-24 says: "And whatsoever ye do, do heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ

We are to commit all our work to Him, and do it with excellence and diligence
Proverbs 16:3: "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Learn from the ant.
Stop wasting time, and work smart by bringing skill, intellect and physical expression into harmony
as each task is completed.

Ants constantly communicate with each other.
Through the antennae, ants use body language to communicate, and by excreting pheromones,
they signal danger or make scent trails to food supplies.
This constant communication facilitates the colony's work flow.

What we learn from the way ants communicate is definitely applicable to how we work.
Research has shown that from 50% to as much as 100% of any message is communicated
through body language.
Careful listening and speaking along with the ability to read and understand body language
can build trust and lead to positive interaction with others.

Ants also work as a team.
Ants instinctively know to pull together as a team.
There are no commanders with egos to get in the way.

Every ant has a specific task to perform, and yet works jointly to ensure the colony's welfare.
The ant teaches us how critical collaboration is to successful work relationships.

Time and energy are wasted trying to prove co-workers wrong.
Acting alone instead of getting input from team members can have disastrous results.
Collaborative solutions to problems should be found by using common sense and wisdom
for the benefit of the entire team.

The ant knows what to do, and does it without being told.
What about you?
Are you prepared to work smart, communicate constantly, and collaborate with others?
Study the ant closely.
Learn its secrets and you will be rewarded.

Ants never quit.
When they are on the trail for food, they don't let any obstacle stand in their way.
They don't stand there with their hands on their hips and look at each other in disbelief.
They don't shrug their shoulders and give up.
They don't start to feel sorry for themselves and decide that success isn't for them.

They confront their obstacles.
They walk around it, over it, through it or under it, until they achieve their desired outcome.

In life there are going to be good times when things seem easier, goals are being achieved,
and the sun always seems to be shining.
Those times don't last, and ants instinctively understand this, gathering and storing food
for the times when Winter comes and food is scarce.

When things are going well for us, we shouldn't just give ourselves high fives, and sit back and relax.
We should be planning for the times when things will go wrong, and when we are feeling stressed.
We can do this through continued learning and development, preparing ourselves with the skills
that we may need in the future.
Saving money for a rainy day is also a great idea that comes from this principle.

Do all that you can!
If you want a flourishing career - do all that you possibly can.
If you want to make a contribution to society - do all that you possibly can.
If you want to have an awesome marriage – do all that you possibly can.
If you want to raise well-balanced, confident kids – do all that you possibly can.
If you want to feel empowered and resourceful - do all that you possibly can.

Safari ants have taught us to never to turn back.
If they are faced by an obstacle, they either climb it, go around it, but they do not turn back.
They keep going.
And when someone or something destroys their anthill, they immediately start to repair it.

Ants do not have well designed roads or paths to follow.
They design their own pathways.
Ants are designers and architects of their own roads.

The ants move in very long and sometimes, crooked columns.
The soldiers build walls so that the weak ones can move in the middle of the column.
The soldiers keep their mandibles wide open to ensure they bite any intruder.
If an ants bite something, they do not release the grip even after the ant's body is severed from the head.

If you try to intercept the ants from moving towards a certain direction.
Despite all your efforts, they will never turn back.
Ants never turn back, even if they run into an obstacle.
If they find a wall they climb it, if they find a rock, they go around it, if they find a river,
they go along it.
So in the mind of ants, there is no Plan B to turn back.

So, the lesson is that we should never turn back!
Perhaps, you are experiencing a very discouraging moment in your life or you have hit a brick wall.
It is not the time to turn back and give up.
Either climb the wall, go around it, but do not turn back.
It is time to face and surmount the obstacle.

When the ants reach their destination, they will build another ant hill.
Each of the class of ants play a specific role to ensure they live in harmony and achieve intended objective.

So, we have learned from the ant that we are inadequate, but we can still make it.
We may be small, but we are equipped to make it.

We have also learned to be a team player
We will not achieve much alone.
So, join hands, and be a team player.
We will not get somewhere alone, but if we are two or more, we can get so much farther.
Always two or more are better than one.

The ants taught us to give a helping hand.
If you are the strongest in the society, please offer some help to the weak.
Your strength might be financial, a special skill, academic achievement or just a talent.
Use your ability to benefit the less advantaged.

The ants have taught us to play our role.
If you are a "worker ant" play your role.
Refrain from blaming the 'soldiers' for not doing their work when you are forfeiting your responsibility.

The ants have challenged us to leave our cocoons.
There are times when we should leave our comfort zone.
We need to do what do what inspires us.
We need to do what we love to do.
We need to chase our dreams.

We also learned that army ants never stay in the comfort of the anthill when they realize
things are not working anymore.
They hit the road.
They declare war.
They move on.

The ants have taught us not to let go until the problem is solved.
When we attack a problem, we must go farther than skin deep.
We must go to the roots.
Eliminate the problem completely.

Face your procrastination, seriously.
Attack gossiping, seriously.
Quit that habit of laying blame.
Ensure that vices in your life are eliminated.

Like ants, once you get a bite of the problem, do not let go.
Do whatever is possible to solve it.

After failing, get up and move on.
If you disrupt a column of ants, they remain disorganised for a very short time.
But within no time; they make a line again and build a column and move on.

This tells you not to remain in a mess forever.
If you fall or make a mistake, shake off the dust.
Learn the lesson, organise yourself and move on.

Then remember to take small steps
I have read that ants can eat a whole elephant.
Although ants are very small they finish eating an elephant by many, small bites.

So attack your goal by accomplishing small steps one at a time.
Save so much money each month, even if it is a small amount, and you will have big savings
in the future.
Read one verse or one chapter in the Bible everyday, and before long, you would have read the entire Bible.
Do a good deed to another person each day.
Touch a single heart a day.
Give your smile away each day.

One step at a time!

"I'm following Jesus,
One step at a time;
I live for the moment,
In His Love divine.
Why think of tomorrow,
Just live for today;
I'm following Jesus,
Each step of the way.

The pathway is narrow,
But He leads me on;
I walk in His shadow,
My fears are all gone.
My spirit grows stronger,
Each moment, each day,
For Jesus is leading
Each step of the way."

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White