“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment and preserveth the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:6-8)
What do ants, field mice, locusts & spiders have in common? Ants are always coming for the food at picnics. Mice give me the chills with their scurrying. Locusts seem rather annoying- do you recall the eighth plague (Exodus 10)? And spiders, well they frustrate me while I clean because they’re always in those hard-to-reach corners! But besides often being considered pests, these 4 little creatures have a lot to teach us about wisdom. Surprisingly, these tiny creations of God have serious life lessons to teach us.
In the introductory verse above, God explains that He gives wisdom in order to preserve the way of His people. If it is a gift from God, then we know it is good and perfect (James 1:17). We should seek wisdom. It is given to us that we may listen and be protected by applying it to our lives. There are stories in the Word about some notably wise individuals such as Solomon, through whom Proverbs was written. Yet with this God-given wisdom, he points to these four little things for examples of wisdom. So as we work to equip ourselves with wisdom and receive God’s gift, we must go to the Word to teach us.
“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The 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.” (Proverbs 30:24-28)
Life Lessons from Ant, The First Exceedingly Wise Thing
Ants are the crawling critters always hard at work to collect their food. When you are that small, imagine the long trip you take to get sufficient food to your home. Imagine how many trips you have to make! As a kid, I used to wonder why they didn’t just eat the food they found right then and there. Ants are always carrying pieces of food. We all have rarely seen an ant eat any of it. This is because they are planning for the future. They aren’t just looking to fill their stomachs now. They are saving to have enough for later. Gluttony is a hard habit to break, but self-control is essential. The discipline of an ant is something that will serve us well in our walk with God.
In the summer, ants are collecting food for all those winter days when no one will be at the park with a spread of sandwiches. It is evident that ants work hard because they are planning to show themselves prepared for what’s to come. What intentionality there is behind what they do! They apply discipline to finish their work. They understand it is necessary in order to survive the future. Hard work and preparation are few life lessons to learn from ants. I am challenged to consider what future I am preparing for as I consider what this means for my life. Many people say they work day in and day out to provide for their families (in the short term) and to prepare for retirement (in the long term). But what about planning for eternity? What are you doing in preparation for that? Are you prepared for the Day of the Lord?
Five Wise Virgins
Consider Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins in Matthew 25. Jesus speaks of ten virgins who are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. While they wait, they sleep and in the middle of the night the bridegroom returns. Five of them are ready with oil in their lamps (Jesus calls them wise, v. 4), while five of them take their lamps without oil (Jesus calls them foolish, v. 3). The foolish ones had no oil in their lamp, so they had to rush to go buy some when the bridegroom is already on his way. By the time they return it is too late; the bridegroom says he doesn’t know them and won’t let them into the marriage. Now to fully understand the depth of this parable, it would be helpful to have some context about Jewish wedding customs.
In Jewish tradition, the bridegroom asks a family for the bride’s hand in marriage and pays a dowry, and then he goes to prepare a home for his bride. She does not know what day he will return, so she must prepare regularly. When the bridegroom returns, he comes with his entire family/town, and the bride must be ready for the marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom of the church. He paid the price for us as his bride on the cross. He bought us back from the world with his death. Jesus then rose again, returned to heaven to go and build a home for his bride. We don’t know exactly when, but He has promised to return. And like the five wise virgins, it would behoove us to be ready. For those that are not, God will surely not allow them in.
Life Lessons on Building Preparedness
There are important life lessons on building preparedness. Jesus closes this parable with a warning, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
We do not know the exact day in which Jesus will return, but we can show ourselves prepared every day, just as the five virgins with oil in their lamps. Paul wrote about being ready for Christ’s return in 1 Thessalonians 5. He says the day should not overtake us as a surprise (v. 4). As the children of the light (v. 5), we should not sleep, as others do, but rather watch and be sober (v.6). Christ speaks about what the end times will look like, so we can tell by the signs in Matthew 24.
However, Paul tells us we can be prepared by “putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thes 5:8). We can protect our hearts by building our faith in Christ and loving as He did. Loving Christ means living in obedience. We can protect our minds by relying on God’s truth and not our own. Trusting God means remaining hopeful of the salvation He has promised and only He can fulfill.
Life Lessons Learned
Is your lamp filled with oil? Are you living with intention? Are you prepared for forever? Consider the following activities to dig deeper into your own preparedness.
- Daily Quality Time with God
- Bible Study
- Constant Prayer
- Sharing the Gospel
Make your life your ministry, just as the ants make preparation their life’s work. Ask God to teach you, and then live out what you learn from His Word. Know the truth and spread the truth of Jesus Christ. Do not remain comfortable in lukewarm faith. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you about something, do not wait to make a change in your life, thinking you can come to Jesus on another day. Tomorrow is not promised. Like the life lessons we learn from wise ants, collect your food now, because winter will surely come.